The University of Cambridge has developed a low cost organic solar cell that has the potential to transform solar production. This new material is made of organic plastic and could be used on awnings, umbrellas and other plastic devices to generate energy.
By placing organic polymers (long chains of carbon-based molecules) in plastic you create an organic photovoltaic cell, that until now have not had much commercial success. With an operating principle similar to photosynthesis in green plants, organic photovoltaic cells are cheap to produce when compared to silicon solar cells, but have quite a low efficiency. This is something which the University of Cambridge is aiming to change.
The university team has reportedly come up with a commercial model that combines efficiency improvements, a longer lifespan, low-cost (and low-toxicity) raw materials, a cost-effective manufacturing process, and a product line that focuses on economies of scale and ease of installation. If this can be done, then cheaply produced solar cells have the ability to transform poorer countries and their energy demands.