Cheaper solar

Cheaper solar

9 September, 2011
IBM developments
Multinational tech company explores cost-reducing possibilities

IBM's team of scientists are on the brink of figuring out a way to make solar cells out of abundant earth materials copper, zinc, sulphur and selenium. According to the Advanced Materials Journal, the previously mentioned materials are more abundant and relatively inexpensive to extract compared to the group currently used to make the thin sheet component of solar cells, namely copper, indium, gallium, and selenium.
So far, the researchers have been able to achieve impressive results with the new materials – a 9.6 percent power conversion efficiency, which is a 40 percent jump from previous attempts using similar materials. IBM is confident that further improvements in power conversion can be made, yielding even better results. For an industry like solar that has traditionally been viewed by consumers as cost inefficient due to its high upfront investment, the discovery is great news as lower costs in materials could potentially scale down prices and, as a result, increase demand.
IBM has been exploring four main areas of photovoltaic research: using current technologies to develop cheaper and more efficient silicon solar cells, developing new solution processed thin film photovoltaic devices, concentrator photovoltaics, and future generation photovoltaic architectures based upon nanostructures such as semiconductor quantum dots and nanowires.

The goal of the projects is to develop efficient photovoltaic structures that would reduce the cost, minimize the complexity, and improve the flexibility of producing solar electric power.

By: Ecozine Staff


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