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Solar Cell Maker Gets a $400-Million Boost

• Tyler Hamilton via Technology Review
A thin-film solar firm spun out of Colorado State University says it has developed a way to make cadmium-telluride photovoltaic modules that could be cheaper than processes used by other makers of such solar cells. Abound Solar of Loveland, CO, has received a conditional $400-million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The loan will be tapped over the next three years to fund a 12-fold expansion of Abound's capacity, bringing its total annual output to 840 megawatts and giving the company the scale it says it needs to compete with industry leader First Solar. "Abound's device is almost identical to what First Solar makes," says W.S. Sampath, a professor of mechanical engineering at CSU and inventor of Abound's manufacturing process. "Our real distinction is in how we make it. It's a more continuous in-line process. What might take five or six different machines (for another manufacturer), we do in one chamber."

Sampath says that even though Abound produces fewer cells, its per-watt cost of production is already "quite close" to First Solar's. "With a little more volume, we can get lower," he says.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

If their technology was sooooo good they wouldn't need the taxpayers to be forced to "invest" in them.  People with money would be jumping at the opportunity.   Wouldn't they?

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