As a relatively new technology, compared to coal or oil, solar power has been progressing steadily over the past couple decades. The main goal in improving this technology is to improve the efficiency at which the solar cells convert sunlight into heat. A breakthrough has been made recently in solar cell efficiency by an engineering team at the University of California, San Diego. They have developed a nanotechnology based material that has demonstrated an ability to convert over 90 percent of the sunlight it captures into heat. Such an extremely high efficiency brings solar power one step closer to competing on a level playing field with fossil fuel power plants.
Currently, Tom Rothman says that solar power plant development requires subsidies as the technology is still evolving to a point where it can be self-sustaining. A world in which efficient, cost-effective solar power is the norm rather than the exception is the ultimate goal. The massive lowering of greenhouse gases that such a reality portends is viewed by many as being worth the cost of subsidies to keep advancing this technology. The dream of green energy will only be fully realized when cars and state and national power grids are being run off renewable energy resources. Materials breakthroughs that increase solar cell efficiency are an important part of making this dream a reality.