The research is very active in the field of solar photovoltaic. Prices fall constantly and yields progress.
En 20 years, yields have increased from 15 % to 42,8 % (September 2007) in laboratories. This figure is obtained by a consortium (combining, among others, researchers from the University of Delaware, Georgia Institute of technology, the University of Rochester and MIT). Yields from systems available commercially are past 5 % to 22 %.
Silicon-based technology has a development comparable to that of the semiconductor industry. A few companies active in this field, as Sharp, are also active in photovoltaics, but more and more new entrants to display their ambitions in this area of growth.
In addition to the constant improvement of silicon-based products, include several innovative technologies hoped promised to a bright future :
- photovoltaic cells in plastic
- Graetzel cells
- photovoltaic concentrators (also called "CPV".)
- doping by adding to the material of the sensor of quantum dots acting as artificial semiconductor. These are designed to capture specific wavelengths today poorly exploited (Cyrium device developed at the Canada), they could boost electricity production by increasing the efficiency of the hub systems of approximately 44 % According to its designers.
- metal thin films deposited on new types of substrate (glass, metal strap, plastic….)
- Silicon with a “consumption” lower raw materials
- without Silicon (CIS / CIGS cell (Copper, Indium, Gallium and Selenium)).
Recently, two Japanese researchers of the Rishi University of Yokohama – Tsutomu Miyasaka and Takurou Murakami – have designed a revolutionary sensor capable of storing solar power without battery. This photo-condensateur named device promises a net simplification of the photovoltaic installations. According to its designers, This sensor would be twice as effective as conventional silicon-based sensors and could therefore operate with a low-intensity light, as inside a building or by time warped. Another area of research is the integration of photovoltaic components in building elements, which strongly reduces the overall cost (tiles, roofing panels, glazing, facades, etc.) and improving the architecture of the building.