Cadmium Telluride Accelerator Consortium

NREL administers the Cadmium Telluride Accelerator Consortium (CTAC), a 3-year consortium intended to accelerate the development of cheaper, more efficient cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells.

Solar panels in the foreground with mountains and wind turbines in the background.

CTAC is designed to:

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  • Support the planning and operations of a technology development consortium to enhance U.S. technology leadership and competitiveness in CdTe photovoltaics (PV)
  • Enable cell efficiencies above 24% and module costs below $0.20/W by 2025
  • Enable cell efficiencies above 26% and module costs below $0.15/W by 2030
  • Maintain or increase domestic CdTe PV material and module production through 2030.

CTAC is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office, which earmarked $20 million in funding out of nearly $128 million to lower costs, improve performance, and speed the deployment of solar energy technologies to achieve the Biden administration's climate goals. Read the Department of Energy's announcement.


CTAC leadership includes:

University of Toledo (lead)

First Solar

Colorado State University

Toledo Solar Inc.

Sivananthan Laboratories.

Research Summary

In addition to CdTe technology road mapping and assessing the domestic CdTe supply chain, CTAC leadership institutions will conduct research in the following areas.

Group V dopants

Doping incorporation methods

Doping profiles

Dopant activation

N-type MgZnO emitter improvements

New emitter candidate materials exploration

Front interfaces evaluation using characterization and modeling

Power conversion efficiency improvements

Bifacial technology

Rooftop PV

Building-integrated PV

Frequently Asked Questions

CdTe is the second most common PV technology in the world, after silicon. The thin-film technology can be made more cheaply than silicon solar panels and has been shown to have a 22.1% efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity. CdTe is one of the best performing and most reliable thin-film technologies in large-scale commercial production.

Although CdTe efficiency rates have risen significantly and costs have continued to decline, there is still progress that can be made in ensuring U.S. leadership in this innovative technology.

Once selected, the consortium leadership is expected to:

  • Develop a CdTe technology road map
    • Create and annually update a technology road map to maintain U.S. technology leadership in CdTe PV
    • Conduct stakeholder engagement activities when developing and updating the road map
  • Conduct research projects and programs
    • Develop and launch research projects within consortium leadership institutions and in collaboration with other institutions to meet the targets set within the technology road map
  • Assess the domestic CdTe supply chain
    • Regularly assess the state of the U.S. CdTe manufacturing supply chain and identify any critical material or capacity constraints
    • Determine whether opportunities exist to expand and enhance the U.S. manufacturing base or to otherwise increase the domestic content of CdTe PV systems
    • Identify technology transfer opportunities and conduct feasibility analysis of new technologies.

The CdTe Accelerator program will allow NREL to act as a resource and support structure for the consortium leadership institutions, including but not limited to the following activities:

  • Identify the consortium leadership through an initial solicitation
    • Competitively select a team of companies and research institutions with strong technology development, transfer, and validation capabilities that can impact the domestic CdTe manufacturing base
  • Support the solicitation and launch of new projects
    • Administer additional solicitations on behalf of the consortium to meet the targets set by its technology road map.
  • Conduct internal research and analysis in support of the consortium
    • Conduct applied research to support the goals of the consortium
    • Perform strategic analysis of the U.S. supply chain
    • Act as a business development resource and stakeholder outreach network to augment consortium activities.

US-MAC and CTAC are both dedicated to strengthening U.S. leadership in manufacturing CdTe.

US-MAC is an ad hoc organization that consists of key universities, companies, and national laboratories that believe that CdTe has opportunity to improve and grow. Launched in 2019, US-MAC aims to mobilize and grow the CdTe PV community, advocate for collaboration and resources, improve performance, reduce manufacturing costs, diversify product applications, increase U.S. production, and enhance U.S. national energy security.

CTAC is a 3-year DOE SETO-funded consortium that was launched in 2022. Members conduct research to advance CdTe technology. CTAC members were selected through a competitive solicitation process, while US-MAC continues community building, advocacy, and education. CTAC and US-MAC work together, in different ways, to enhance the impact of CdTe-based PV in our domestic energy supply.

Some of the participating organizations have leadership positions in both CTAC and US-MAC. University of Toledo, First Solar, Colorado State University, and NREL were founders of US-MAC, and First Solar was elected by US-MAC membership to the first Chair of US-MAC's Industrial Advisory Board.

University of Toledo, Colorado State, First Solar, and two other companies, Toledo Solar and Sivananthan Laboratories, collaborated to submit the proposal that was awarded to establish CTAC.

NREL holds a program management and supporting role in CTAC. CTAC gathers new members as projects are awarded by NREL through periodic requests for proposals (RFPs).


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