At Applied Materials we love trying new things, so to celebrate the Summer Solstice, I spent the day yesterday, answering questions about solar energy and photovoltaics on Reddit, one of the world’s biggest and most vibrant online communities.During the day-long, live “Ask Me Anything” question and answer session, I received nearly 1,000 comments and questions, ranging from topics like how to get a job in renewable energy to nuclear versus solar! I had a great time discussing my passion and life’s work, and answered as many questions as I could throughout the day.If you have a moment, spend some time reading through the questions the community asked and the responses provided, but to save you some time, listed in this post are the ten best questions, as voted by the Reddit community.
This is the last post in a series running this week looking at the interrelated building blocks that are key contributors to producing solar modules at a cost of less than US$1 per watt.Advances in AutomationMany solar factories today operate with little or no tool or factory automation. Those which have automation on individual tools often use custom hardware and software which are expensive to create, acquire and install, and are labor-intensive to maintain. The solar industry is increasingly turning to well-known productivity methods from other high-volume manufacturing industries, including intelligent, affordable factory and process control software.
Today’s blog post is part two of the three part series running this week looking at the interrelated building blocks that are key contributors to producing solar modules at a cost of less than US$1 per watt.Thinner Wafers and Higher ThroughputsSilicon wafers for PV are much thinner and more fragile than those used in typical integrated circuit (IC) fabs. While the IC industry starts with 700-750 micron thick wafers, the solar industry has been driving to thinner wafers to save on silicon consumption, the largest single materials cost in solar cell production.
As the need for clean energy increases, engineers are working to expand production and improve the efficiency of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar factories. Five years ago, a 30 MW solar fab was a competitive size. Now, companies routinely plan 300 MW-scale fabs, and some are considering fabs on the scale of 3 GW over the next few years. A key driver in this increase in fab scale is the goal of producing solar modules at a cost of less than US$1 per watt.This week we are featuring a three part series that looks at the interrelated building blocks that are key contributors to meeting this goal for c-Si PV:Higher Efficiency CellsThinner Wafers and Higher ThroughputsAdvances in Automation
The Importance of Relationships: It's all about connecting to both the heart and the mind.Trina Solar recently recognized Applied Materials in part because the two way dialogue between our employees is frequent and effortless.The first time I met Qiang Huang, Trina’s vice president and chief technology officer, we connected. While sitting at lunch during Baccini’s first Innovation Summit, we discovered a shared interest in Chinese calligraphy.
2010 Tech Awards Laureates with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, the recipient of this year’s Global Humanitarian Award. The Tech Awards represent the single longest-standing forum for recognition of organizations that are actively creating a sustainable future building process. The quality of Laureates has consistently recognized role models who out shine the rigid, prescriptive formulas of conventional aid. Winners have in common a process that draws from an ever-expanding reference collection of preferred and likely ingredients which are blended together to meet local needs with locally empowered people. These results can be emulated and evolve on a global scale.
I recently wrote a piece for EnergyBiz Magazine on advancing solar manufacturing technology to enable solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to become a significant part of the global energy portfolio by lowering the cost-per-watt. The following is a brief excerpt from the article.
The demand for coal-powered electricity generation continued to grow, especially in Asia, during the 2009 global recession. Over 1 gigawatt of coal-powered electricity generation was added in China per week. With no signs of slowing, what can be done to change this pattern? One idea being discussed with friends is the creation of an America-China Energy Trust to help build a new green energy economy in China.