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Document type: article
There are many different ways to harness solar energy. Light can be converted into heat, electricity and fuels. The two options for electricity generation are photovoltaic (PV) solar energy conversion and concentrating solar power (CSP). In the future these technologies may also be used to generate sustainable fuel, especially hydrogen. These ‘solar fuels’ are still in an early stage of development, but increasingly gain research attention. Thin-film technology emerged as a competitor in 2008. Thin-film technologies can use silicon but also non-silicon materials (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) to create PV cells. They are much cheaper to make and can be printed onto glass, metal or other construction materials, opening the way to new, large-scale applications. Thin-films are not as efficient as their silicon counterparts. First Solar, Inc., which has factories in the US, Malaysia and Germany, applies cadmium telluride on glass and offers the first product in the history of the industry that is cost competitive with conventional electricity generation.
© 2009 IDP. This article has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported license.
Environment and Natural Resources