Solar energy has the potential to revolutionize the way electricity is generated and distributed. Unfortunately, it has had that potential for years. The high initial costs, the long payback period and efficiency of solar cells have hampered the adoption of solar energy. Low prices for conventional electricity has not helped. However, with the recent spike in natural gas prices, tax incentives (USA or Canada) combined with the concerns of climate change and net metering (Wiki) have made solar and other alternatives more attractive. A new development could push it over the edge.
A program funded by the US Department of Energy has broken efficiency records. Fundamentally, solar cells have been developed that can convert the sun's rays into electricity more efficiently than in the past. Treehugger has a post about this with links to other sites of interest.
Hopefully these solar cells can be commercially available and push solar over the hump to become a viable alternative to producing energy.