Earth911 Podcast: Toledo Solar CEO Aaron Bates on American Cadmium Telluride Solar Panel Manufacturing

When we talk about solar energy, most of us think of the traditional silicon-based photovoltaic cells that Jimmy Carter famously installed on the roof of the White House in 1977. They have become fixtures in homes, businesses, and large-scale solar farms. But in the future, solar technology could generate energy on almost any surface or window. Aaron Bates, founder and CEO of Toledo Solar, a Perrysburg, Ohio, maker of durable solar panels and solar glass using thin-film photovoltaic technologies, joins the conversation to discuss the benefits of American solar panels made using cadmium telluride. The material, referred to as “cad tell,” is a byproduct of other industrial processes that supports building thinner photovoltaic films laid onto glass. Cad tell solar technology is also easily recycled and 60% of the material is recovered today, according to Bates.

Aaron Bates, chairman & CEO of Toledo Solar
Aaron Bates, chairman & CEO of Toledo Solar, is our guest on Sustainability in Your Ear.

American-made solar technology is critical to energy independence, as supply chain issues and political tensions with China have led to an 18% increase in the cost of foreign solar panels. The U.S. installed 20.2 gigawatts of solar energy production in 2022. The nation’s current 142.3 GW of solar capacity can power more than 25 million homes, according to a March 2023 Solar Energy Industries Association report. Toledo Solar windows, which come with a 30-year warranty, promise to add more generation capacity to a building by extending the solar surface area beyond rooftop panels.

Combining electricity generated by traditional panels, windows, and other thin-film photovoltaics on buildings could make our built environment energy self-sufficient. But there are many questions about how the U.S. solar industry can grow and the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act’s solar incentives. Aaron discusses the consequences of cutting IRA incentives, which is under debate as Republican lawmakers seek to roll them back in the debt ceiling confrontation. You can learn more about Toledo Solar at toledo-solar.com.