Silicon-based solar modules dominate the current market. However, they are expensive and have a high carbon footprint. A new generation of modules is emerging made using a chemical compound known as cadmium telluride (CdTe) andover 25 GW has already been installed. Solar panel efficiency refers to a panel’s ability to convert energy from the sun into electrical energy. Experts are looking to increase the efficiency of CdTe modules as it has the potential to be competitive on efficiency but at a lower manufacturing cost than silicon-based modules, which use mono-crystalline silicon (c-Si). The carbon footprint of CdTe is also half that of c-Si modules and end-of-life module recycling for CdTe modules is guaranteed. Untreated CdTe has very low efficiency and is typically about only 1%. However, when CdTe undergoes a chlorine treatment—which involves treating CdTe with cadmium chloride at 420oC for 20 minutes—its efficiency jumps dramatically. The record cell efficiency is 22%.
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