Catalyzing mass production of solar photovoltaic cells using university driven green purchasing

Joshua M. Pearce (Physics Department, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 1 October 2006



The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of the purchase power of the higher education system to catalyze the economy of scale necessary to ensure market competitiveness for solar photovoltaic electricity.


The approach used here was to first determine the demand necessary to construct “Solar City factories”, factories that possess equipment and processes sized, dedicated and optimized to produce only solar photovoltaic systems. Inexpensive solar cells from these factories could produce solar electricity at rates comparable to conventional fossil‐fuel derived electricity. Then it was determined if sufficient demand could be guaranteed by green purchasing from the international university system.


A focused effort from the university community to purchase on‐sight produced electricity would make it possible to construct truly large‐scale dedicated solar photovoltaic factories rather than follow the piecemeal production increases currently observed in the industry.

Practical implications

Direct economic competitiveness of an energy source having markedly lower environmental, social and health externalities would have a positive‐spiral (virtuous cycle) effect encouraging the transition of the global energy infrastructure away from polluting fossil fuels to green solar energy.


Despite significant commercial progress in the conversion efficiency of sunlight into electricity with solar photovoltaic cells, their widespread adoption is still limited by high costs relative to conventional fossil fuel‐based sources of electricity. The concept outlined and critically reviewed in this paper represents a novel and economical method of transitioning the electric supply system to renewable solar energy.



Pearce, J. (2006), "Catalyzing mass production of solar photovoltaic cells using university driven green purchasing", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 425-436.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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