In keeping with the tradition started on the the very first day of How the World Works I remain devoted to bringing readers all the latest news about polysilicon -- a key ingredient in both semiconductors and photovoltaic panels.
But now, Reuters is reporting that polysilicon prices have fallen so far that solar power is in trouble again -- or, to be precise, that segment of the solar industry that specifically steered away from dependence on polysilicon -- so called thin solar.
A collapse in silicon prices threatens to put the heat on solar panel makers that use little of the material, such as Japan's Sharp Corp and even low-cost industry darling First Solar Inc.
Spot prices on the solar industry's key raw material, polysilicon, have halved since January, giving a leg up to solar panels that rely heavily on the material.
Thin-film solar panels, made with little or no polysilicon, are starting to lose their competitive edge over China-made silicon-based modules, which are more efficient in transforming the sun's rays into electricity.
High-priced or low-priced, polysilicon appears to be a real pain in the solar posterior.