Solar cell technology was one of the enabling technologies that let mankind go to space. Early solar photovoltaic cells were very inflexible and prone to damage. They were also very expensive to manufacture. The cost for silicon solar cells has dropped significantly in the last decade and electricity made from solar in this way is almost the same cost as grid power.
There is a new solar pv technology that may open the doors for a new age of clean energy. This technology is based around a material known as perovskite. Perovskite is highly flexible and transarent, so much so that is can be applied to a surface or even wrapped around an existing object.
Imagine being able to wrap your home in this material and have solar energy without the ugly panels? Even solar thermal reflectors can have this material applied to their surfaces and raise the system efficiency by producing solar electricity from the same reflective surface.
This material is easy to work with and researchers are now refining the manufacturing process to realize the very low cost that is possible. Since it can be applied as a sticky film it requires very little installation labor or support structures.