Cheaper, Better Solar Panels made from Fool’s Gold!

Researchers may have found a better, cheaper alternative to Silicon for photovoltaic cells; Iron Pyrite or Fool’s Gold! It is being researched as a super absorber PV solar energy, and has the distinct advantage of being far more abundant and inexpensive, as detailed in the article release today, excerpted below:

02.17.2009 – Cheaper materials could be key to low-cost solar cells.

| 17 February 2009

Unconventional solar cell materials that are as abundant but much less costly than silicon and other semiconductors in use today could substantially reduce the cost of solar photovoltaics, according to a new study from the Energy and Resources Group and the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

These materials, some of which are highly abundant, could expand the potential for solar cells to become a globally significant source of low-carbon energy, the study authors said.

Solar panels on school roofSolar power collectors, like these photovoltaic panels on a New Mexico high school roof, could be installed much more widely if they could be manufactured from less-costly materials. (U.S. Department of Energy photo)

The analysis, which appeared online Feb. 13 in Environmental Science & Technology, examines the two most pressing challenges to large-scale deployment of solar photovoltaics as the world moves toward a carbon neutral future: cost per kilowatt hour and total resource abundance. The UC Berkeley study evaluated 23 promising semiconducting materials and discovered that 12 are abundant enough to meet or exceed annual worldwide energy demand. Of those 12, nine have a significant raw material cost reduction over traditional crystalline silicon, the most widely used photovoltaic material in mass production today.

The work provides a roadmap for research into novel solar cell types precisely when the U. S. Department of Energy and other funders plan to expand their efforts to link new basic research to deployment efforts as part of a national effort to greatly expand the use of clean energy, according to Daniel Kammen, UC Berkeley professor of energy and resources and director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory.

from UC berkeley News