Monday, March 02, 2009

Minerals for solar panels

The announcement from Tempe-based First Solar last week that they broke the $1 per watt cost for solar photovoltaic panels based on cadmium-tellurium (CdTe), has drawn global attention [right, First Solar FS Series 2 PV Module]. The standard silicon-based solar panels run about 3 times that cost.

Jake, who blogs at Pure Pedantry, looks at what the growing demand for solar panels made from 'exotic' materials means for the solar industry.

He references a new University of Calif./Lawrence Berkeley National Lab study that concludes that CdTe works for meeting a small amount of global energy demand but the economics change when solar makes up 20-30% of the mix. At the higher level, more common/easier to produce minerals will be more successful even though they are not as efficient as the rarer but more costly minerals.

Iron pyrite, copper sulfide, and copper oxide are attractive options according to a report in
Popular Mechanics.


  1. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Great! Aren't these minerals that can be found locally? Couldn't we get Americans working on building this sort of stuff?

    Wouldn't that not only give people jobs but be working towards a more-sustainable future?

    1. Anonymous4:22 AM

      It is not good to use Solar Panels. Yes, It produces electricity in a better way BUT, YOu just heard that minerals are used in Solar Panels and minerals are non-renewable so if we keep making Solar Panels we will run out of those minerals! What devistation will the mining of these minerals cause? What about the wildlife that mining will effect? So, Besides a better way for electricity, There is MANY bad things that will happen! I am fighting for the fact that Solar Panels are cruel to the earth!