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Consortium to Promote CdTe Photovoltaics

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A recently formed consortium brings together partners from industry and academia to advance a photovoltaic semiconductor technology that already meets approximately 40% of the domestic U.S. utility-scale photovoltaic demand. The U.S. Manufacturing of Advanced Cadmium Telluride (US-MAC) photovoltaics consortium will support increased production volume and optimized performance, and will diversify, integrate, and support the success of domestic firms.

The consortium is supported by a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) in support of a cadmium telluride photovoltaics (CdTe PV) accelerator program that is intended to enhance U.S. technology leadership and competitiveness in CdTe PV. By 2030, the program aims to increase domestic CdTe PV material and module production, achieve cell efficiencies above 26%, and decrease module costs to below $0.15/W.

SETO announced the CdTe PV accelerator program on March 25.

“While already enjoying great success in the marketplace, recent scientific developments make it clear that cadmium telluride has significantly more potential for dramatically higher module efficiency, lower cost, increased lifetime energy, and more rapid production,” said Martin Keller, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL will coordinate the consortium.

A new research consortium will invest in next-generation solar energy technology. Courtesy of Colorado State University.
A new research consortium will invest in next-generation solar energy technology. Courtesy of Colorado State University.
US-MAC currently consists of a three-member executive board with representatives from NREL, Colorado State University, and the University of Toledo (home to the Wright Center for Photovoltaics), and an industrial advisory board made up of 10 companies.

Cadmium telluride solar modules have been shown to be immune to cell cracking that occurs as a result of extreme weather, and to perform better than silicon at elevated temperatures or high-humidity environments. Solar cells made of cadmium telluride, which is a mining byproduct, exhibit a 19% commercial module efficiency. US-MAC plans to push that efficiency closer to the maximum theoretical efficiency of approximately 30%.

The consortium will also develop tandem and bifacial concepts for even higher performance and longer lifetimes.

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Photonics Spectra
Jul 2021
BusinessResearch & TechnologyeducationpartnershipssolarphotovoltaicsenergyDOEcadmium telluridecadmium telluride solar cellslight speed

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