Image credit: NREL

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced $20 million in funding to enhance the country’s competitiveness in the cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar technology market.

CdTe is a thin-film solar PV technology with high light-absorption rates and has low manufacturing and installation costs compared to other technologies such as silicon-based solar cells.

CdTe has become one of the world’s most common solar generation technologies owing to research and development projects conducted to enhance cell efficiency, according to the DoE.

The $20 million funding will be awarded to the CdTe PV Accelerator Consortium Solicitation, which was released in June 2021.

The consortium will use the funding to gather companies and research institutions to research how the technology can be improved to impact the entire domestic supply chain. In addition, the consortium will develop a technology roadmap and conduct research projects to meet targets in that roadmap.

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DoE lab the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will partner with the consortium to provide technical and resource support for research and development projects.

Improving the supply and use of the technology in the US will help the country to scale up its solar installations and capture a larger portion of the global solar energy market.

The development would help the US to accelerate its energy transition by expanding its portfolio of renewable energy resources. Solar is expected to play a key role, together with solutions such as green hydrogen, wind energy, and carbon capture, in helping the US energy industry to reduce its carbon footprint.

According to the DoE, the continued decline in prices of solar energy, the enactment of policies encouraging further deployment and addressing the fluctuating nature of solar for grid reliabilities are some of the main key areas that need to be prioritised to unlock the full potential of solar.

Despite the barriers hindering the solar market, the US has, to a certain extent, managed to expand its market. In 2008, the US portfolio consisted of just 0.34GW of solar capacity which has increased to 97. GW, enough to power the equivalent of 18 million average American homes. Today, over 3% of US electricity comes from solar energy in the form of solar PV and concentrating solar-thermal power, according to the DoE.

Becca Jones-Albertus, Solar Energy Technologies Office director, said: “The combined expertise of U.S. companies, universities, and national labs can accelerate cadmium telluride’s continued progress in increasing efficiency and energy yield while maintaining competitive production costs and service lifetimes.”