New solar consortium says it will push CdTe thin-film efficiency to 30%

Several university, research and commercial solar companies involved in the production of cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film solar panels have the US production of a solar photovoltaic consortium (Advanced Cadmium Telluride) (US-MAC).

Led by the Wright Center for Photovoltaics at the University of Toledo, Colorado State University (CSU) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the group will promote fundamental science and engineering, drive innovation, and benefit from shared resources and expertise. It aims to support increased CdTe solar production volume, optimize performance and diversify, integrate and support the success of domestic businesses.

CdTe solar panels currently meet about 40% of the demand for the domestic utility-scale PV market – all sourced from First Solar, the world’s largest CdTe solar panel manufacturer, with its home manufacturing facility just outside Toledo, Ohio.

“Although already enjoying great success in the market, recent scientific advances make it clear that CdTe PV has significantly more potential for significantly higher module efficiency, lower costs, longer energy life and faster production. All of this is possible with the coordinated collaboration and investments that will be pursued by US-MAC, ”said Martin Keller, director of NREL Laboratory.

CdTe solar panels already show a commercial panel efficiency of 19%. US-MAC will bring efficiency closer to the maximum theoretical efficiency of about 30%, develop advanced tandem and bifacial concepts for even better performance and extend the already excellent service life. Annual CdTe production can be increased by at least a factor of 10 through targeted and coordinated research and development.

US-MAC currently consists of an executive council that includes CSU, NREL and the University of Toledo, and has 10 industry members that make up the industrial advisory board: 5N Plus, Consolidated Research Systems, Direct Solar, First Solar, Lucintech, Nious Technologies , Pilkington North America, Sivananthan Laboratories, Toledo Solar, and Uriel Solar Energy.

“Members believe that CdTe is only at the beginning of its technology maturation curve and that there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Dr. Michael Heben, director of the Wright Center for Photovoltaics at UToledo, professor of physics and professor by special appointment of McMaster. “The Secretary of Energy’s recent announcement of a new CdTe Accelerator Program reinforces this belief.”

Efforts to establish US-MAC began more than a year ago and a Memorandum of Understanding was fully implemented on March 11, 2021. First Solar was selected by the industry advisory board to represent the board of directors for an initial three-year term . . The board of directors will work with the industry advisory board and other key contact points in other organizations to advance the goals of US-MAC.

The organizers and members of US-MAC want the consortium to be inclusive as it pursues the mission of strengthening the US leadership in the production of CdTe PV. Discussions are underway with Arizona State University, the University of Delaware and the University of Utah, as well as other companies, to join a growing US-MAC network.

News release from US-MAC

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