Efficiency doesn't really get the focus it deserves, so I wanted to highlight Corning's (NYSE:GLW) curved glass and how it could boost the solar space. For instance, replacing roofing shingles with durable transparent solar cells could challenge the crystalline silicon market with cheaper products that are also far less expensive to install. The glass, called Willow, is stronger and thinner and could actually increase thin-film efficiency 20%-30%. So there are big opportunities for Corning in solar and maybe, down the road, even in 3D printing.

I'm very intrigued by Corning's recent supply deal with Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) and the potential for Samsung to own a 7.4% stake in shares of Corning in seven years through a convertible deal (if converted it would make Samsung the largest shareholder of Corning). Additionally, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced a deal in August to use Corning's Willow Glass to develop thin-film solar cells to be rolled out on rooftops. So while some investors support Sunpower (NASDAQ:SPWR) because of the company's efficiency, Corning may be a name those interested in solar PV may also want to keep an eye on.