First developed in the U.S., cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells are the second-most common photovoltaic technology deployed worldwide after silicon. A $20 million initiative recently launched by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is designed to make these devices less expensive and more efficient while bolstering domestic manufacturing capacity.

The thin-film technology can be made more cheaply than silicon solar panels and has been shown to have a 22.1% efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity. To improve the cost-competitiveness of this photovoltaic technology, the Cadmium Telluride Accelerator Consortium will pursue a broad research planSchematic of a typical CdTe solar cell. Source: DOESchematic of a typical CdTe solar cell. Source: DOE that includes CdTe doping strategies and characterizing and exploring new CdTe contacting materials. Efforts will also focus on developing a bifacial CdTe module that absorbs light from the front and back of the module.

The initiative is designed to:

  • Enable cell efficiencies above 24% and module costs below $0.20/W by 2025
  • Enable cell efficiencies above 26% and module costs below $0.15/W by 2030
  • Maintain or increase domestic CdTe photovoltaic material and module production through 2030

The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory will administer the consortium, which will be led by the University of Toledo, First Solar, Colorado State University, Toledo Solar Inc. and Sivananthan Laboratories, Inc.

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