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Center for Photovoltaics Video (Text Version)

This is the text version for the Center for Photovoltaics video.

The video opens with the NREL logo, surrounded by "Department of Energy's NREL: National Renewable Energy Laboratory."

A scene of a city skyline at sunset. The sky is a brilliant red, and the buildings are silhouetted in shadow. The scene shifts to an image of a shadowed field, lit by a bright red sunset. The image changes to the NREL Solar Energy Research Facility (SERF), a building with a long, diagonally sloping front with large windows and solar panels on the roof.

It is our constant source of light and heat and it's essential to a sustainable energy future. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado is a global leader in developing cost-effective, solar electricity.

A montage of photos cycles through images of scientists working, the inside of the SERF, and rows of many different solar panels. The image shifts to a close-up of a woman and a panel that reads "Sarah Kurtz: Principal Scientist."

Sarah Kurtz: "I think the future of solar is very promising."

A montage of photos cycles through images of scientists at work, working on large solar panels in and outside of the laboratory.

NREL's team is the power behind internationally-recognized advancements in photovoltaics technology.

The image cuts to a shot of a man in a suit and a brightly colored tie, sitting in an office.

Larry Kazmerski: "Successes depend on the talents and the abilities and the innovation of the scientists and engineers of this organization."

The image changes to the inside of one of NREL's research facilities. A man pushes a heavily loaded cart into a room packed full of large mechanical equipment. The video briefly cuts to an image of the NREL logo, bouncing around the screen around a bright photo of the sun. The scene then cuts to an image of a man sitting next to Sarah Kurtz. Text to the side reads, "Jerry Olson: Principal Scientist."

Jerry Olson: "Everything came together. I mean the stars, the heavens, all of it."

An image of the SERF Building, covered in snow.

This is the birthplace of the world's most efficient solar cell.

Jerry stands in front of a large computer panel, attached to several machines. The video cycles through images of machines in the laboratory, and a series of hand-sized, dark black solar cells.

Jerry Olson: "This is the laboratory, you know, where we make the devices that are over 40% efficient."

NREL scientists invented the multi-junction solar cell.

Sarah holds a model, consisting of rows of specifically colored orbs, that shows the construction of a multi-junction solar cell.

Sarah Kurtz: "You'll see it alternate between the indium and the gallium…"

Individual layers of atoms are precisely placed on a tiny wafer.

Jerry holds a small dish and removes the cover. Inside is a pure black substance that catches the light.

Jerry Olson: "This is what we call a gallium-arsenide substrate."

A row of images shows the small, black multi-junction cell, outer space, and the Mars Rover.

Put this device in the sun and it produces electricity. Multi-junction cells now power nearly all space satellites and the Mars exploration rovers.

Jerry Olson: "If it'll work on Mars, we could make it work anywhere."

A scientist with gloved hands works on a black solar cell. The image then pans to one outside a building where the sun is being reflected off of a large lens.

The challenge is making it practical for use on our planet. This cell costs a lot to create, but add an inexpensive lens to concentrate the sunlight and the efficiency levels skyrocket.

The image returns to the office and the man in the suit. The text alongside his image reads "Larry Kasmerski: Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics."

Larry Kazmerski: "40% of the sun's energy is being converted into usable electricity."

The scene changes to the inside of the laboratory. A man stands in front of a computer that is hooked up to a large machine as he talks.

Rommel Noufi: "I love being part of this technology."

Images of dark, thin solar cells. In one scene, a scientist demonstrates how thin a solar cell is by bending the material back and forth.

NREL is also a pioneer in the thin-film photovoltaic field. Extremely thin layers of semi-conducting materials are deposited on the support structure.

Rommel Noufi: "And that support, we call a substrate."

The scene changes to one of a woman in a lab coat. She wears goggles as she sits at a computer.

This technology is much newer than the more common, silicon cells. But it also promises to be more cost competitive because thin-films require less of the light-absorbing materials to generate electricity.

Rommel Noufi: "This is where we grow the heart of the solar cell."

Thin-film efficiencies are close to 20% in the laboratory.

The image returns to the man in the laboratory. The text alongside him reads " Rommel Noufi: VP SoloPower and Former NREL Scientist."

Rommel Noufi: "This is a remarkable efficiency, by the way, for polycrystalline thin-film material or for this class of materials."

A split-screen image appears. On one side is a tall building, silhouetted by the sun. In the other half is a solar array, made up of several connected solar panels.

Solar cells are used outdoors in the elements. Durability is a must.

Rommel Noufi: "We want these solar cells to last for a long time, 20 years or more."

The scene changes to a man in shades who is standing outside. Several solar arrays are set up behind him. The text alongside him reads "Peter McNutt: Senior Engineer."

Peter McNutt: "Many of the manufacturers are now looking to thin-films to try to decrease the cost of making modules."

The video slowly pans over several solar arrays that are set up outside. There are several small arrays lined up in a fenced-in field. The arrays, of different sizes, shapes, and ages, are lined up side by side, all pointed towards the sun.

Industry partners send their photovoltaic systems to NREL…

Peter McNutt: "Welcome to the Outdoor Test Facility."

…To see how they endure rain, snow, hail, dust, and the passing of time.

Peter McNutt: "Their output is decreasing by about 1% per year."

Some of the modules monitored here date back decades. Others are newer developments. NREL's solar array field is striking to see.

Peter McNutt: "This is about 1,100 watts of array right here in front of me."

The video continues scrolling over the many different arrays in the Outdoor Test Facility. It travels over several different types of solar panels before focusing in on streetlights and a large panel of solar shingles.

It's one of just a handful of test facilities like it in the world. A place where engineers analyze photovoltaic products from solar street lights to shingles…

Peter McNutt: "These are a couple examples of roofing products."

…To make sure they perform.

Peter McNutt: "If you have an energy-efficient home you'd need probably two to four times this amount, this size array, to offset your entire electrical need."

The video cuts back to inside the laboratory, and focuses in on a man. The text reads "Keith Emery: Principal Engineer."

Keith Emery: "We look at all sizes, shapes, technologies. You name it, we've measured it."

A close-up of a computer screen. Several windows are open, all of which include charts and data.

When you're talking record-breaking solar cells, accuracy is everything.

Keith Emery: "The first thing we do is we measure the area."

NREL's performance characterization lab verifies photovoltaic efficiencies…

Keith Emery: "The efficiency is defined as the maximum power."

…It also looks for imperfections.

The video zooms in on a machine. Doors open up and reveal a solar cell inside. It is light with a bright blue light. Inside, a probe is reaching down to make contact with the cell.

Keith Emery: "The shutter just opened up, and you can see a probe making contact with the cell."

The doors to the machine snap shut.

This is a certified calibration lab, where researchers and manufacturers submit their solar cells for evaluation.

Keith Emery: "We do approximately 100 of these a month."

The video pans over the inside of the facility. Different machines are showing. In one scene, a cell is exposed to a brilliant red light.

Various lamps and different colors of light imitate the sun's rays…

Keith Emery: "This is our solar simulator."

So scientists can study the samples' responses to the solar spectrum.

Keith Emery: "They're just trying to make them cheaper and better."

Image of the outside of the Process Development and Integration Lab (PDIL). The shot zooms in close on a cylindrical, tower-shaped section of the building, lined with small square windows on the side. The video then switches to inside the building, where researchers work in wide, open rooms full of large machines. It then switches to Steve Robbins, a man with a beard and glasses.

Steve Robbins: "I'm Steve Robbins, and you're here at the Process Development and Integration Lab."

The PDIL in the Science and Technology Facility is NREL's latest tool to advance the science of photovoltaics.

Steve Robbins: "Oh, I love it. This is a fantastic facility."

The technology here allows scientists to deposit the layers of a solar cell and do their research, without exposing the sample to air.

A close-in shot of Steve Robbins is accompanied with the text, "Steve Robbins: Senior Engineer."

Steve Robbins: "The ability for us to move these six-inch samples from machine to machine, completely under vacuum is actually unique in the world. You will not find anything else like this anywhere else."

A computer graphic image shows how the inside of their machine works. A robot arm lifts a solar cell beneath a light. The cell is then moved down the machine by the robot arm, as parts move and shift out of the way. The machine slowly stacks layers of the cell on top of each other.

A robot in the center of this steel chamber shuffles the samples through the various steps. The vacuum pod is vital to this process.

Steve Robbins: "Here, we're actually trying to protect from molecular contamination."

The pristine environment is critical because an entire photovoltaic stack can be just a micron or two.

Steve Robbins: "A human hair is roughly 80 microns."

Gases can react with the surface and even a speck of dust can contaminate a sample. Manufacturers are taking advantage of the PDIL to improve their solar cells.

Steve Robbins: "Many scientists, they see it and they're just awed. They're amazed. They're like, 'Oh, we need that.'"

The video zooms out of the PDIL. A montage of images shows all of the solar researchers at NREL that have been interviewed in this video. As the video comes to an end, the images change from person to person, from Larry Kazmerski's office to the inside of the PDIL to the Solar Energy Research Facility and the Outdoor Test Facility.

Larry Kazmerski: "How many times in my career have I heard, 'That won't work? That won't happen'?"

Overcoming obstacles, pushing new horizons. NREL's Center for Photovoltaics is rising to meet the next challenge to make the cost of solar energy competitive with other electricity sources by the year 2015.

Larry Kazmerski: "It's going to be more than competitive."

Image of the sun, panning across the sky, followed by a close-up of a solar cell.

Capturing the light from the sun. Converting it to low-cost electricity.

Jerry Olson: "We're working on four-junction solar cells with efficiencies that could go as high as 50%."

Image of a skyline lit by a golden-orange sunset. Shadowy silhouettes of buildings jut out against a distant horizon. The next shot shows the sun shining brightly right on the horizon, about to set.

The next generation of solar power is dawning at NREL.

Larry Kazmerski: "These are all technologies that are revolutionary technologies. These are things that are beyond what people can even think."

The video ends with the NREL logo.