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The areas of research in these cells includes improving their efficiency and stability over time.Since costs of PV in the last 10 years have come down so drastically, CSP has not been able to compete commercially in the world.
In addition, in some developing nations it may be economic to use solar generation to reduce reliance on imported oil, particularly if that oil must be moved by truck to remote generator sites.
A companion working paper discusses both these valuable roles for solar energy in the developing world.
considers only the two widely recognized classes of technologies for converting solar energy into electricity — photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP), sometimes called solar thermal) — in their current and plausible future forms.
Because energy supply facilities typically last several decades, technologies in these classes will dominate solar-powered generation between now and 2050, and we do not attempt to look beyond that date.
The present trend in research in PV is focused on using earth abundant materials for PV, since some of the materials in today’s PV panels, such as, Cadmium, Tellurium, Gallium, indium, selenium etc.
are not abundant and also become hazardous waste at the end of panel life.
I would just like to mention one trend only (to keep this article from becoming too long), which I started back in the early 1990s.
Back then, I conceptualized a thermodynamic cycle, now known as the Goswami Cycle, in which you can convert thermal energy to power and cooling in the same cycle.
So most of the present research is directed toward making s CO2 power conversion technology practical.
For completeness sake, let me say that there is a lot of research going on in other solar energy applications also, such as, solar desalination, solar refrigeration and cooling, solar photocatalytic environmental clean-up, daylighting and passive solar uses.