One of the more interesting articles that we ran across this week discusses cadmium telluride solar panels. Although they’re a bit less efficient than silicon solar cells, cadmium telluride has even more advantages. To quote one of our favorite “green” blogs:
The necessary electric field, which makes turning solar energy into electricity possible, stems from properties of two types of cadmium molecules, cadmium sulfide and cadmium telluride. This means a simple mixture of molecules achieves the required properties, simplifying manufacturing compared to the multi-step process of joining two different types of doped silicon in a silicon solar panel.
Cadmium telluride absorbs sunlight at close to the ideal wavelength, capturing energy at shorter wavelengths than is possible with silicon panels
Cadmium is abundant, produced as a by-product of other important industrial metals such as zinc.
On top of all that, these solar panels are produced at less than $1 per watt. They’re not perfect, though. Debates over potential environmental problems still reign. We’ll study this topic more thoroughly at a later date, but for now, check out some of above-linked articles (plus this one!) to learn more.