National Science Foundation Next Generation Photovoltaics Center at CSU

Dr. W.S. Sampath, site director of the National Science Foundation Next Generation Photovoltaics Center at Colorado State University, has been working on advancing cadmium telluride (CdTe) Photovoltaics for more than 20 years at CSU. Along with Dr. Kurt Barth, the associate site director of the NGPV Center, the overall vision is to help establish PV electricity as a major source of energy in the United States and the world by leveraging cutting-edge research.

Many of of NGPV Center's CdTe research contributions led to First Solar's 290-megawatt power plant with CdTe PV (7.5 sq. mi.)

Many of of NGPV Center’s CdTe research contributions led to First Solar’s 290-megawatt power plant with CdTe PV (7.5 sq. mi.)

The demand for advanced PV technology is at an all-time high. The PV industry has consistently seen 40 percent growth each year for more than a decade, and it’s also becoming increasingly competitive with traditional electricity generation due to technology advances. Bloomberg recently reported that CdTe PV produces the lowest-priced electricity in the nation today; the prices have decreased 75 percent in the last four years and the trend is predicted to continue.

The NGPV Center is unique in PV research for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center
  • The NGPV Center uses CdTe as a semiconductor as opposed to silicon-based semiconductors to extract solar energy. CdTe uses 100 times less semiconductor material that can be 100 times less pure than silicon. CdTe is less expensive to manufacture, readily available, safe, 100 percent recyclable, better performing, and is in general, a more effective material for this purpose.
  • The NGPV Center has helped to streamline the manufacturing process of solar panels. These advances have directly enabled CdTe PV to become the leading PV technology in the U.S.

The NGPV Center invites the industry to join its mission by becoming members. Contact Dr. W.S. Sampath if interested, sampath@engr.colostate.edu. With member support, the NGPV Center can build a more robust program and offer its members exclusive benefits such as providing direction for new research, encouraging close interactions with other PV industry leaders, awareness of new technologies and opportunities, IP arrangements, and more.

With a handful of partners, including First Solar, 5N Plus, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Loughborough University, Ion Edge Corp., and MBI Corp., the NGPV Center is well on its way to making PV electricity a major source of energy.