Produced at less than $1 per watt, the panels will dramatically reduce the cost of generating solar electricity and could power homes and businesses around the globe with clean energy for roughly the same cost as traditionally generated electricity.
Sampath has developed a continuous, automated manufacturing process for solar panels using glass coating with a cadmium telluride thin film instead of the standard high-cost crystalline silicon. Because the process produces high efficiency devices (ranging from 11% to 13%) at a very high rate and yield, it can be done much more cheaply than with existing technologies. The cost to the consumer could be as low as $2 per watt, about half the current cost of solar panels. In addition, this solar technology need not be tied to a grid, so it can be affordably installed and operated in nearly any location.
Sampath has spent the past 16 years perfecting the technology. In that time, annual global sales of photovoltaic technology have grown to approximately 2 gigawatts or two billion watts — roughly a $6 billion industry. Demand has increased nearly 40% a year for each of the past five years — a trend that analysts and industry experts expect to continue.
By 2010, solar cell manufacturing is expected to be a $25 billion-plus industry.