Solar Technology by TEP
Tucson Electric Power Co. (TEP) and its affiliate, Global Solar Energy, announced a breakthrough in the development and manufacturing of state-of-the-art photovoltaic materials. Unlike conventional solar cell materials such as crystalline silicon, the unique feature of Global Solar`s product is that a layer of solar material–1/20th the thickness of a piece of paper–can convert the sun`s energy into electricity.
Global Solar`s manufacturing process utilizes copper indium diselenide (CID), a new class of solar cell materials. This material consists of four extremely thin film layers. The center two layers create electricity when placed in the sun, and the top and bottom layers remove the electricity from the solar cell similar to the positive and negative posts of a common battery. Each layer of the CID product is so thin that several thousand square feet of the material weighs less than 100 pounds.
The photovoltaic materials are fabricated using a low-cost process similar to that used to deposit reflective coatings on architectural plate glass, eyeglasses and automotive windshields. In addition, the energy payback is projected to be less than one year as compared to 5-10 years for existing solar cell technologies.
Once in full-scale production, the cost of manufacturing the solar cell technology is projected to be one-half to one-third that of existing solar energy technologies. Global Solar is designing and locating a manufacturing facility in Tucson, Ariz. The facility is expected to begin mass producing the solar modules by June 1997.