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Sustainability at Yale

Thin Film Solar at Yale's Swing Dorm

Traditional solar photovoltaic cells are made from silicon, are flat-plated, and are typically bolted to the roof at an angle. Alternatively, thin-film solar cells are made from amorphous silicon or non-silicon materials such as cadmium telluride. This new technology is a few micrometers thick and can be adhered directly to the roof or facade of a building. Using fewer material resources in the manufacturing process, thin film is less expensive than traditional solar photovoltaic cells; however, the efficiency of thin-film solar ranges from 10 percent to 19 percent compared to 20-30 percent for its counterpart.
Yale's first thin-film solar system was installed in 2009 on the roof of Yale's Swing Dorm. The 24.5-kilowatt thin-film array generate approximately 20,000 kilowatt hours per year for the dorm.