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Director’s Corner

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Exciting but challenging times in the world of PV.

These are exciting times in the world of PV but challenging times to secure federal government research funds. First Solar has installed over 8 GW of CdTe PV modules and Solar Frontier has a 900 MW CuInGaSe2 plant in Japan and is considering siting a manufacturing facility in New York. Ascent Solar, Dow Chemical, Global Solar, MiaSole and Stion are all shipping CuInGaSe2 PV products.

However, silicon modules dominate the global market providing ~90% of the over 40GW annual production and Panasonic Corporation announced that it has achieved a record conversion efficiency of 25.6% (cell area*3: 143.7 cm²) in its HIT(R) solar cells:

silicon module cross section diagram

IEC was the first to publish device results on this structure in 1997.

However, with all the positives in PV, there is an uncertainty in the future for universities that support these core technologies and keep the pipeline of PV trained people full since:

This is a critical issue since c-Si and thin film technologies will dominate the PV market for at least the next 20 years or more and university R&D is needed to support the development of emerging manufacturing facilities and to provide the science and engineering for the next generation device structures, module design and the pathway to 50 year lifetimes.

On the research front at IEC, there have been many exciting developments:

Finally, I want to wish Erten Eser an enjoyable retirement - we will miss your expertise at IEC.

Regards,

Robert W. Birkmire
Institute of Energy Conversion
University of Delaware