(404d) Solar Photovoltaics: Evolutionary, Disruptive, and Revolutionary Technologies | AIChE

(404d) Solar Photovoltaics: Evolutionary, Disruptive, and Revolutionary Technologies


The prospects of current and coming solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies are envisioned. The emphasis is on R&D advances (cell and materials options), with indications of the limitations and strengths of crystalline (Si and GaAs) and thin-film (a-Si:H, Si, Cu(In,Ga)(Se,S)2, CdTe). The contributions and technological pathways for now and near-term technologies (silicon, III-Vs, and thin films) and status and forecasts for next-generation PV (organics, nanotechnologies, non-conventional junction approaches) are evaluated. Recent advances in concentrators, new directions for thin films, and materials/device technology issues are discussed in terms of technology evolution and progress. Insights to technical and other investments needed to tip photovoltaics to its next level of contribution as a significant clean-energy partner in the world energy portfolio. The need for R&D accelerating the near-term (evolutionary) technologies balanced with work in mid-term (disruptive) approaches is highlighted. Moreover, the technology ownership for next generation solar PV mandates a balanced investment in research on revolutionary technologies (quantum dots, multi-multijunctions, intermediate-band concepts, nanotubes, bio-inspired, thermophotonics, . . . ) having high-risk, but extremely high performance and cost returns for our next generations of energy consumers. This presentation provides insights (some irreverent, some entertaining) into how this technology has developed?and where we can expect to be by this mid-21st century.