SOLAR and SILICON
Posted May 21, 2008on:
The sun is and will be a reliable source of energy for the foreseeable future.
A little over half of the total solar energy passes through the atmosphere to reach the Earth’s surface.
This energy flux has an average power of 89,000 Terawatt (1 TW = 1012 Watt).
In comparison: the total average energy flux of all the wind available on the planet is 370 TW and the average global power consumption 15 TW. In addition to being abundant, solar energy is reliable and has an outstanding energy payback.
With today’s technology, a silicon photovoltaic cell produces 20 times the energy it takes to make the module.
Using new processes from 1366 Technologies it is possible to double this already impressive ratio. Photovoltaic solar cells produce energy in a reliable solid-state configuration – without moving parts – and are virtually maintenance free during their expected lifetime of over 40 years.
After oxygen, Silicon (Si) is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust making up for 25.7% (257,000 ppm) by mass. Although there are some non-silicon solar cells available, they invariably make use of rare and heavy metals, such as Tellurium (Te) with abundance similar to Platinum (0.001 ppm) or Indium (In), an important raw material for liquid crystal displays, which, with 0.1 ppm, is about as abundant as silver.
It is our belief that in order to make a meaningful contribution to the world’s energy and environmental needs, it is essential to construct solar cells out of abundantly available raw materials and to avoid rare and heavy metals.
The silicon PV is today’s most successful solar cell and, because of the abundance of its raw material, is likely to stay the dominant technology in the XXI century.