Scientists have discovered a cheaper alternative to make thin-film solar films. The new ingredient is magnesium chloride, a popular component of tofu. This is also the same ingredient used to de-ice snow covered roads.
Large thick silicon plates are the most popular way to harness solar energy but it is very expensive and not very flexible. A cheaper alternative is thin film solar cells. However, it has to be treated with cadmium chloride which is quite toxic.
Researchers at the University of Liverpool were on a mission to find a cheaper and safer way compound that could perform similarly to cadmium chloride. The result was magnesium chloride and it worked just as efficiently as cadmium chloride and cost less. In fact, it cost $0.001 per gram compared to $ 0.30 for the same amount of cadmium chloride.
Unlike cadmium chloride magnesium chloride doesn't have to go through a rinsing step. As a result, few resources and time is needed to produce the thin solar films. Due to its cost effectiveness and environmental benefits, magnesium chloride is poised to run a stiff competition against its toxic rival.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a proposed plan to require states to reduce their individual rates of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The progress that the state of Texas has already made in development and collection of wind power, as well as the plans to continue to cultivate wind energy, mean that Texas is on track to meet the EPA’s requirements.
Texas is already creating and using more wind power than any other state, and has plans in place to increase its wind capacity by 70 percent in the next two years. However, Texas is also by far the nation’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide for power.
Plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Texas are not reliant on wind power only. Experts expect to see significant reduction made by use of natural gas and solar power as well. According to Nathan Daniel, an analyst with TexasElectricity.org, natural gas is the single largest source of electricity in Texas. It has displaced mostly coal as an energy source thanks to cheap prices for natural gas in recent years. Coal will likely continue to lose ground in Texas as cleaner energy sources like wind and natural gas help slow growth in the state’s CO2 emissions.