Low Cost Solar Panels
Crystalline silicon wafers have been the the dominant source of photo-voltaic materials for the last two decades, but dependence on expensive crystalline silicon may soon come to an end with the recent improvements made on the Cadmium Telluride solar cell.
The patented technology developed by Professor Sampath at Colorado State University, over the last 16 years, is expected to lower production costs to $1 per Watt. This is accomplished by the continuous, automated manufacturing of solar panels using glass coated with a Cadmium Telluride rather than crystalline silicone. As Professor Sampath explained: "The key to expanding the U.S. market is to lower manufacturing costs so more people can afford the technology," His process makes better use of raw materials. This is true because Cadmium Telluride solar panels require 100 times less semiconductor material than high-cost crystalline silicon panels. In addition the CdTe cell manufacturing process may be automated. Cadmium salts, of course, as well as other heavy metal salts are highly toxic, but when handled with care the benefits of CdTe photovoltaic technology outweigh the risks.
The manner in which electrons jump across barriers in the CdTe cells is slightly different than the manner in silicon cells but the basic mechanism for electron transfer is the same for both. Just click on the illustration below for a basic simplified explanation of photovoltaic technology.
If a dollar per watts worth of electricity is still too high you may be interested in a solar thermal application for $0.10 per Watts worth of heat. This would involve a homemade MTD Solar Heating system.