US Laser Focused On Silicon Free PV Technology

DOE Targets Over 24% CdTe Cell Efficiency & Below $0.20/W Module Costs By 2025

US Laser Focused On Silicon Free PV Technology

Eying opportunities in the field of solar manufacturing through silicon free CdTe technology, the US government has picked CTAC members to delve deep into the subject, which includes CdTe module maker First Solar. (Photo Credit: First Solar, Inc)

  • US government has established CTAC as a consortium to conduct extensive research into CdTe PV thin-film technology
  • It will target to achieve over 24% CdTe cell efficiency and module costs below $0.20 per W by 2025
  • By 2030, the CdTe efficiency is aimed to grow over 26% and module costs go under $0.15 per W
  • Members of the consortium led by the University of Toledo are First Solar, Colorado State University, Toledo Solar and Sivananthan Laboratories

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) Accelerator Consortium (CTAC) to accelerate the development of CdTe solar cells with cell efficiencies over 24% and module costs below $0.20 per W by 2025. The Consortium is led by University of Toledo.

In the long run, by 2030 the target is to enable CdTe cell efficiencies of above 26% and module costs below $0.15 per W. At present, the highest efficiency of CdTe cell has reached 22.1% cell, which was achieved by First Solar in 2016 (see Making Up To The Milestone). First Solar’s best module efficiencies today reach up to 18.7%.  However, in order to enter the list of the top commercial module efficiencies containing only silicon-based products at least 22.5% is needed, which is the typical level for PERC modules (see TaiyangNews Top Solar Modules Listing – June 2022).

The context here for the US is of course to get over the reliance on external solar supply chain which is heavily led by Chinese companies, especially for silicon PERC modules, as well as to become a leading market for PV manufacturing.

The consortium will prepare a CdTe technology roadmap, conduct research projects and program and assess domestic supply chain, evaluating critical material or capacity constraints. The overarching aim will be to expand domestic CdTe PV material and module production, support domestic CdTe supply chain and enhance competitiveness of the country in this space.

The 3-year consortium will be administered by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Apart from Toledo University, CTAC leadership includes CdTe solar module manufacturer First Solar, Colorado State University, Ohio based CdTe thin cell solar panel maker Toledo Solar, and high-tech next generation research and development laboratory Sivananthan Laboratories. All the consortium members were chosen following a competitive solicitation round.

Formed with a $20 million budget, the consortium will work on CdTe doping strategies, characterizing and exploring new contacting materials and enable a bifacial CdTe module that absorbs light from both sides.

The DOE stated, “The consortium’s efforts to spur technological advancements will increase America’s competitiveness, bolster domestic innovation, and support clean electricity deployment supporting President Biden’s goal of achieving a net-zero economy by 2050.” More about CTAC on NREL’s website.

The $20 million for CTAC is part of $128 million committed by the DOE in 2021, wherein $40 million was also reserved for perovskites (see US Aims To Cut Solar Energy Costs By 60% By 2030).

In July 2022, DOE invited proposals to support CdTe and perovskite solar technologies with $56 million funding in a bid to back domestic PV manufacturing efforts (see US Announces $56 Million Funding Opportunity For Solar).

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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