Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Arizona companies capitalize on thin-film solar power technology: exotic minerals needed

Two Arizona-based solar companies, Global Solar Energy in Tucson, and First Solar in Tempe, are profiled in a story in Scientific American on the growing power of thin-film technology for solar photovoltaics.

Global Solar uses Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) to create solar panels using only 1% or so of the amount of materials used to make the more traditional silicon photovoltaic cells. [right: Global Solar]

First Solar uses a cadmium-telluride cell, with a production cost of about $1.25 per watt which is less than half that of traditional cells. [note: I've blogged about this previously but no longer own stock in First Solar]

Even though this growing technology requires much lower amounts of minerals, the ones they use are rarer and harder to come by. The success of the mining industry is crucial to feeding demands of the solar power industry.

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