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New Low Cost Solar Panels Ready for Mass Production
Colorado's State Univ.'s panels will cost less than $1 per watt.
http://www.industryweek.com/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=14932

Compiled By Adrienne Selko
Sept. 10, 2007 -- Colorado State University's method for manufacturing
low-cost, high-efficiency solar panels is nearing mass production. AVA
Solar Inc. will start production by the end of next year on the
technology developed by mechanical engineering Professor W.S. Sampath at
Colorado State. The new 200-megawatt factory is expected to employ up to
500 people. Based on the average household usage, 200 megawatts will
power 40,000 U.S. homes.

Produced at less than $1 per watt, the panels will dramatically reduce
the cost of generating solar electricity and could power homes and
businesses around the globe with clean energy for roughly the same cost
as traditionally generated electricity.

Sampath has developed a continuous, automated manufacturing process for
solar panels using glass coating with a cadmium telluride thin film
instead of the standard high-cost crystalline silicon. Because the
process produces high efficiency devices (ranging from 11% to 13%) at a
very high rate and yield, it can be done much more cheaply than with
existing technologies. The cost to the consumer could be as low as $2
per watt, about half the current cost of solar panels. In addition, this
solar technology need not be tied to a grid, so it can be affordably
installed and operated in nearly any location.

The process is a low waste process with less than 2% of the materials
used in production needing to be recycled. It also makes better use of
raw materials since the process converts solar energy into electricity
more efficiently. Cadmium telluride solar panels require 100 times less
semiconductor material than high-cost crystalline silicon panels.

"This technology offers a significant improvement in capital and labor
productivity and overall manufacturing efficiency," said Sampath,
director of Colorado State's Materials Engineering Laboratory.

Sampath has spent the past 16 years perfecting the technology. In that
time, annual global sales of photovoltaic technology have grown to
approximately 2 gigawatts or two billion watts -- roughly a $6 billion
industry. Demand has increased nearly 40% a year for each of the past
five years -- a trend that analysts and industry experts expect to continue.

By 2010, solar cell manufacturing is expected to be a $25 billion-plus
industry.

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