The definition of a heuristic is a commonsense rule (or set of rules) intended to increase the probability of solving some problem. Ok, so heuristics -- commonsense rules -- can be patented now. This is so far from the original patent intent that they should basically now be considered as a legal stand-over right rather than as a protection of a novel invention.
SolarSells writes "Solyndra makes funky-looking cylindrical solar cells that resemble compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Their products are meant for office buildings, and are made from a thin coating of copper indium gallium diselenide on glass tubes. Although they might not be able to fill them till 2012, the company has already received $1.2 billion in orders. Their manufacturing tricks make the cells so cheap that they may be competitive with other forms of power even after solar subsidies are phased out."