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GE’s thin-film solar panels could make solar power cheaper

cadmium telluride

GE Energy has announced that it plans to enter the market of cadmium-telluride solar panels. The company is looking forward to developing thin-film solar panels that use a cadmium- and tellurium-based semiconductor to trap solar energy and convert it into electricity. Although GE has already tried its hands on crystalline-silicon solar panels with purchasing a few factories in 2004, it sold them off last year after seeing less potential for growth, as there were already a lot of established companies giving it a tough competition.

The reason to turn to cadmium-telluride solar is that when compared to silicon, there is still a lot to learn about the physics of cadmium telluride, suggesting it could be made more efficient, which in turn can lower the cost per watt of solar power. Making cadmium-telluride solar panels is far more cheaper than silicon ones, so competing with established solar panel makers gets easier. The cadmium-telluride solar panels originally developed by PrimeStar Solar, a spin-off of the Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, is what GE will work on to improve the technology.

As of now, GE is preferring cadmium telluride solar panels to newer thin-film solar technology based on semiconductors made of copper, indium, gallium and selenium, because cadmium telluride a simpler material that is much easier to work with. The company is preparing to give a good competition to First Solar by providing higher performance solar cells and reducing the overall cost of solar power. Since tellurium is a rare material, GE will have to look for new sources of the element. If the company has to compete with First Solar, which has a lot of experience in manufacturing cadmium telluride, the company will have to find ways to bring down the cost.

Via: Technology Review

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