"Despite places like Australia being bathed in sun, the cost of traditional silicon-based solar cells hasn't inspired people to buy, buy, buy," said Johnny Lieu at Mashable‚Äč. But new superthin, printable solar panels could bring the price of rooftop solar power down dramatically. Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia are testing solar cells that use electronic inks printed on plastic film to conduct electricity. The panels are less than one-tenth of a millimeter thick and can be printed quickly in large quantities.

(Courtesy image)

Eventually, the panels could cost as little as $8 per square meter, says Newcastle professor Paul Dastoor, who is leading the project. That's considerably less than Tesla's new solar roof shingles, which run around $235 a square meter.

"We expect in a short period of time the energy we generate will be cheaper than that generated via coal-based fire stations," Dastoor said.