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.

CTAC is designed to:

  • 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.

Leadership

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.

Next-Generation Absorber

  • Group V dopants
  • Doping incorporation methods
  • Doping profiles
  • Dopant activation

Advanced Front-Interface Engineering

  • N-type MgZnO emitter improvements
  • New emitter candidate materials exploration
  • Front interfaces evaluation using characterization and modeling

Passivated/Selective Back Contacts

  • Power conversion efficiency improvements
  • Bifacial technology 

New Markets

  • Rooftop PV
  • Building-integrated PV

Sign Up to Receive Updates About CTAC and Future Solicitations

Note: Your email address and other information will be used to provide you with updates about CTAC. Only authorized NREL staff will have access to it, and it will be retained for the length of the consortium, likely 3 years. For more information, see NREL's security and privacy notices.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

About Cadmium Telluride Solar Cells

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.

Contact

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