IBM researchers have created a high-efficiency solar cell from ‘earth-abundant’ materials with the potential to produce more energy at a lower cost than previous technology. (Details are in IBM’s ‘Building a Smarter Planet’ blog).
The solar cell performs at 9.6% efficiency, which sounds low but is apparently 40% higher than any previous natural solar cell. Cells with comparable efficiency rates use materials that are too costly or contain elements that could limit production.
IBM points out that it will license any intellectual property resulting from its on-going solar research and has no plans to manufacture solar technologies. Certainly my experience as an IT company watcher suggests that this ‘stick to the knitting’ approach by IBM is the right way to go.