From MiT's technology review:
Soliant has designed a solar concentrator that tracks the sun throughout the day but is lighter and not pole-mounted. The system fits in a rectangular frame and is mounted to the roof with the same hardware that's used for conventional flat solar panels. Yet the devices will likely cost half as much as a conventional solar panel, says Hines. A second-generation design, which concentrates light more and uses better photovoltaics, could cost a quarter as much.Possibly 1/4th the price? It would be interesting to see what would happen if these concentrators are joined with the recently developed solar cells that have a 40.7% efficiency and show promise of a whopping 58% efficiency.
Thanks to a shortage of polysilicon plants the cost of silicon has gone up from $9 in 2001 to a current price of $60. Once more plants are built and the solar industry becomes established we will likely see another drop in solar prices. What this means in dollars and cents will be covered in more depth in the future. But there is certainly lots of potential in the solar industry.
So how much land would be required to power the world with solar? The squares in the map below is the amount of land that would be required to produce 20 terawatts. That's enough to give 10 billion people all the power they need.
What is more is that these squares represent solar cells at 10% efficiency. If we are converting at 58% efficiency then that means these squares are nearly six times the amount of land needed to power the planet.
MiT's Technology Review, Solar Power at Half the Cost, A new roof-mounted system that concentrates sunlight could cut the price of photovoltaics., Kevin Bullis, Friday, May 11, 2007
Physorg.com, 40% efficient solar cells to be used for solar electricity, Lisa Zyga
King, R. R., Law, D. C., Edmondson, K. M., Fetzer, C. M., Kinsey, G. S., Yoon, H., Sherif, R. A., and Karam, N. H. “40% efficient metamorphic GaInP/GaInAs/Ge multijunction solar cells.” Applied Physics Letters 90, 183516 (2007).
Silicon Shortage Stalls Solar John Gartner, Wired News, 28 March 2005. Retrieved 4 September 2006.
Shining a light on solar-power costs
Cnet, Solar systems don't come cheap, so HelioVolt is teaming with Exceltech to cut back on the installation costs., Michael Kanellos
Richard E. Smalley, Future Global Energy Prosperity: The Terawatt Challenge
Silicon shortage sends solar sky-high, SOLAR POWER — by Nick Rosen, 02 Nov 2006
Department of Energy, New World Record Achieved in Solar Cell Technology, December 5, 2006