It may be an old-fashioned carnival carousel from 1926, but it’s powered by some of GE’s most futuristic ecomagination technology. Visitors to the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference now underway — or anyone passing by the corner of 3rd Street and Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas — can take a ride or charge their iPads and cell phones. The juice comes from GE’s “thin film” panels, which use a cadmium telluride semiconductor to capture sunlight.
Austin’s KXAN provides an overview in the clip below (the carousel segment is at the beginning of the spot, and in the last third).
The vision for thin film solar panels is that they will lead to wider use by significantly bringing down the cost of solar energy. But as we described in our recent audio slideshow with Danielle Merfeld, GE’s solar R&D leader, scientists believe that they will one day wrap around objects, conform to a roof, or even be hung like sails. GE is stepping up the pace of its thin film work in conjunction with PrimeStar Solar Inc., which is an Arvada, Colorado-based startup firm in which GE is a majority investor.
As you can see in this audio slideshow, unlocking the secrets of the complex technology with PrimeStar is a job that is uniting GE’s network of four Global Research Centers — and drawing on the unique expertise found in each. Thin film solar panels have the smallest carbon footprint and the fastest energy payback time of current PV technologies when measured on a life cycle basis.
* Read our SXSW story about biomimicry and nanotechnology
* Learn about GE’s other solar technologies, such as “solar inverters”
* Read “The Solution to Solar’s ‘Christmas Lights’ Problem” on GE Reports
* Visit www.carousolar.com and learn more about the event and the technology.