US scientists claim solar panels made with more common metals could be cheaper and more sustainable.
At a meeting held by the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, researchers said less expensive and “earth-abundant” materials like copper and zinc could be used to build solar panels instead of “rare earth” metals like indium and gallium.
They claim this could be more efficient and produce energy at a lower cost and also ease the process of installing PVs into other parts of the buildings rather than the traditional roofing.
Harry Atwater, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology said: “Sustainability involves developing technology that can be productive over the long-term, using resources in ways that meet today’s needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. That’s exactly what we are doing with these new solar-energy conversion devices.”
James Stevens, a chemist at the Dow Chemical Company claimed the US has around 69 billion square feet of residential rooftops that could be generating around 50% of the nation’s electricity.