65% efficiency in solar cells by using quantum dots?
Case in point: Last week's announcement that NREL researchers have used the nanocrystalline structures of "quantum dots" (nano-scale structures) to boost the potential efficiencies of solar cells up to a theoretical maximum of 65% -- versus today's best-in-class at around 35%. If we could double the efficiency of solar PV at the same cost, we would halve the cost of solar energy and get the technology that much closer to cost competitiveness.
That's a big "if". From an investors' standpoint this is a really early, largely theoretical finding that doesn't discuss the economic feasibility of the technological approach. However, it's worth noting that back in March, solar startup Konarka and quantum dot specialist Evident Technologies announced a plan to work together to develop technologies that sound a lot like what NREL has been working on.
Of course, there are a lot of other factors to consider such as cost, modularization, durability, etc. But such developments and efforts are nevertheless of strong interest to cleantech investors.