BioSolar Inc. CEO Dr. David Lee addressed the analysis of New Energy Finance today, Dec. 7, which stated that solar energy would see a 50% reduction in cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) through 2009. Lee, citing the report, noted that this represented the “largest cost reduction in its (solar) history”.
Lee went on to acknowledge the leadership role solar technology has played as an “economic and environmental” growth factor for the entire “green” industry. Lee also noted that if the industry “wanted to continue growing”, it would need to plan ahead and avoid the pitfalls of the microelectronics industry, which is dealing with an “ongoing legacy of toxic electronic waste”.
Lee asserted that the petroleum dependency of solar manufacturing constituted a serious challenge and involved a “surprising number of toxic chemicals”. Lee stressed the need for the photovoltaic (PV) industry to “get serious about life-cycles of all the materials that go into PV panels”, and emphasized a broad-spectrum approach encompassing the entire production chain from “mining to manufacturing to recycling to disposal”.
Lee cited a recent Design News article about low-cost bioplastics emerging into the PV industry as a component for solar cells, highlighting BSRC’s eco-friendly bio-based BioBacksheet-C solar cell component. Concerns remain in the industry about the toxicity of polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) films which account for 70% of solar cells today. Bio-based backsheets, such as those offered by BSRC, represent a solution to this glaring problem.
The Design News article points out the dangers of solvents such as dimethyl acetamide (DMAC), which is found in Tedlar®, a solvent-cast nearly ubiquitous in PV cells and aircraft interiors.
BSRC’s Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Stan Levy, spent 27 years developing many of DuPont’s industry-leading coatings such as Teflon® and Mylar®, and represents a source of council within the PV industry on the subject of manufacturing and recycling fluoropolymers such as Tedlar®.
Levy elaborated on the dangers of some of the polymers, adding that “some polymers do not burn. Fluorocarbons such as TFE, PFA, and FEP need an atmosphere of at least 90% oxygen to ignite.” Levy recommends landfilling these materials due to their high decomposition temperature, which makes them “potentially extremely hazardous”.
Analysis by renowned legal firm Norton Rose confirmed the rosy outlook for investors in BSRC, and the strength of its bio-based back sheet. Such components, based on renewable resources, will “allow c-Si cells to be truly green for the first time, on a back sheet which is not indexed to the cost of crude oil”. This latter will also reduce costs, according to Norton Rose.
BSRC intends to lead the charge toward sustainable PV cells with its BioBacksheet™-C, and is in pre-production on two more types of bio-based backsheet.