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oledo Solar, Inc., a solar panel manufacturing business located near Perrysburg in Wood County, has received a $1.7 million federal grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to develop a semi-transparent solar glass that can be used in building construction.

The semi-transparent cadmium telluride photovoltaics (CdTE PV), solar-cell material product would look like glass on the outside but would be coated on the inside semi-transparently.

“The solar windows allow the building to recoup savings in energy costs and reduce air conditioning load with an ultimate goal of making the building self-sufficient,” said Paul Wolford, spokesperson for Toledo Solar. “In addition, Toledo Solar has received a grant to help develop a lighter weight, steel-backed, rooftop panel that will ease installment and make the panel more durable.”

Dr. Al Compaan, chief technical officer, Toledo Solar, said, “Toledo Solar is very pleased that the US Department of Energy, Solar Energy Technologies Office has made this $1.7 million grant to Toledo Solar and our partners for the accelerated development of Toledo Solar’s innovative, power-producing solar window designed for building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).”

Toledo Solar’s new product has the potential for use in building construction

According to Wolford, the low-cost manufacturing of semi-transparent CdTE PV will be beneficial for building integration.

“CdTe solar technology is a proven technology and cost leader in worldwide photovoltaics, and has uniquely established strong US ownership, manufacturing, and a US supply chain. It offers an advantage to other technologies in that it is utilizes thin films, unlike silicon, and has the lowest cost of any technology,” said Wolford. “Partly due to its commercial success, it is currently used almost exclusively for utility-scale applications. Yet, the same success offers cost, manufacturability, high throughput, and thin-film engineering advantages for integration into the building envelope.”

Toledo Solar is focused on providing a high performance, low-cost, US manufactured option for the underserved rooftop, building-applied, and building-integrated PV markets, noted the company, and its technology uses a unique and patented vertical glass transport system that provides several flexibility, cost, and throughput advantages. This project will enable Toledo Solar to mitigate business and technology risks associated with developing a photovoltaic window that will allow integration of photovoltaics into the building envelope.

 

“We will be working in collaboration with The University of Toledo’s Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization Center, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and Project Vision Dynamics Inc. to complete development of attractive, low-cost, high-efficiency solar window units and solar building facades through manufacturing innovations in CdTe module technology. We are excited that with this award DOE / SETO is recognizing the innovative talent and flexible manufacturing infrastructure of Toledo Solar to further broaden the diverse solar manufacturing base in Ohio and the US,”

– Compaan

According to Wolford, Toledo Solar is the only US-based manufacturer of thin film CdTe rooftop panels and the second active CdTe manufacturer in the nation. According to the company, it is also the only manufacturer specifically serving the non-utility solar market. The product is more aesthetically pleasing, allows for easier installation, and is more durable than the silicon based product mainly produced in China.

Curently, Toledo Solar employs 25 employees with a goal of employing 70 by the spring. The company currently puts out 100 megawatts (MW) of production with a goal of reaching 800 MW in three to five years. According to Wolford, primary consumers are in California, with Florida and Texas being secondary markets. The markets will grow as Toledo Solar grows, he noted.