According to Businessweek, Phillips 66, along with California startup Solarmer and South China University of Technology have created a transparent polymer (plastic) solar cell that is as thin as a grocery bag and 9.31% efficient. It costs between 70%-80% less than silicon panels, but degrades over time.
Vishal Shrotriya, a spokesman for Solarmer, says that the technology will have to reach 12-15% efficiency to compete with silicon, which continues to improve in price and efficiency each year. However, he sees potential military and remote power applications in the immediate future.
Because they are thin and transparent, this technology could be coupled with conventional solar cells and other technologies. It demonstrates that solar is edging ever closer to economic viability