Solar Photovoltaics – Technology, Challenges, and Value

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - 3:15pm - 4:15pm
Reiss 112
Ken Zweibel
The GW Solar Institute at The George Washington University

This is a light-handed survey of the PV technology, its value as a source of electricity in comparison to others, and the challenges that need to be overcome to use it broadly. I will explain how a PV cell works, and then describe the history, status, and trends in PV development and markets. For example, Chinese crystalline silicon and US First Solar cadmium telluride technologies are important, highly disruptive aspects of today’s PV scene. I will conclude with a discussion of solar variability challenges, the value of PV in terms of minimized water use and emissions (including carbon footprint and energy payback), and then close with some new, unique ideas about much lower loan rates and the potential and value of each PV installation lasting a century. I will then conclude with a discussion of how PV (and wind) could by 2030 displace all the new electricity needed to replace all the gasoline now used for light-duty vehicles, if by that time we had suitable electric vehicles.

Host: Jeff Urbach