US Forms $20 Million Consortium to Accelerate Research in Cadmium Telluride Solar Cells

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of a Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) Accelerator Consortium, a $20 million initiative aiming to rapidly reduce the cost of the second most common photovoltaic (PV) technology in use globally after silicon.

Led by the University of Toledo, First Solar, Colorado State University, Toledo Solar, and Sivananthan Laboratories, the consortium will be administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It will help the country to boost the deployment of American-made solar technologies.

The NREL team aims to make CdTe solar cells more competitive globally. Its broad research plans include CdTe doping strategies and characterizing and exploring new CdTe contacting materials. The DOE is working in collaboration with the NREL to enable a bifacial CdTe module that absorbs light from both the front and back sides of the modules.

The DOE stated that the consortium would work to improve the continued cost and efficiency of the CdTe technology. The consortium comprises experts chosen through a competitive solicitation released by the NREL in 2021.

The $20 million initiative by the DOE will help the U.S. expand the production of CdTe modules and PV material while supporting the domestic CdTe supply chain. To bolster America’s competitiveness in this technology, NREL will serve as a resource, support, and technical analysis center for the consortium as it develops a technology.

DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) supports innovative research to overcome the current technological and commercial barriers to CdTe cells. SETO has also awarded funding for the research, development, and demonstration of methods that would enhance the reliability of the CdTe technology while lowering costs.

The DOE, through NREL and longstanding partnership with First Solar, has been a leader in CdTe technology as CdTe solar cells were first developed in America.

According to DOE, CdTe technology will pave the way for the U.S. solar sector to expand domestic production of panels by limiting the risk of being overtaken by low-cost foreign competition.

Last month, First Solar and French renewable energy developer Akuo signed a deal for the supply of solar modules, leveraging First Solar’s Cadmium Telluride thin film module technology platform.

The Biden administration announced a $56 million fund for solar manufacturing and recycling, targeting cost-effective energy and creating ample jobs.