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Disclaimer: I have no formal training in any scientific field.

Have we located any material suitable for solar panels already on the moon? Or does it appear that they would have be imported?

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe it can be more easy to use the Sun to heat stuff to produce energy. like in Ivanpah $\endgroup$ – jean Apr 18 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that would be easier and no wind to contend with. $\endgroup$ – Ruminator Apr 18 at 19:29
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Welcome to Astronomy.SE!

The moon, like the earth, consists of 25% silicon by mass. Silicon is one of the main elements used in producing solar cells.

So sourcing the material is not the problem. The manufacturing is.

I assume your interest in this matter doesn't just stop at finding the materials, but also includes in-situ manufacture. I won't go for a detailed answer, but I will outline a few considerations.

  • You need your own silicon industry. It's the sort of thing that requires a large infrastructure behind it. For instance, monocrystalline silicon solar cells require high purity silicon (on the order of a few ppm) and pristine growing conditions for the crystal to grow. That means you need to have the infrastructure in place to mine moon rock, reduce the silica to silicon, and separate out as much impurity as you can. With the sorts of purity levels we're talking about, you'd probably need at the very least a medium-sized moon base already in place.

  • Making any sort of solar panel is hard. You need an industry to make the silicon. You need another industry to make the solar panels. This sort of stuff requires precision engineering, and complex (and heavy) tooling which you'll have to import from earth. You need a 'pyramid' of support structures and expertise to maintain such expensive equipment.

  • Amorphous SI is probably your best bet. Amorphous silicon seems to be your best bet. It can be applied through some form of vapour deposition, and from a brief bit of reading around, appears to be one of the easiest ways of making solar cells, though the efficiencies tend to be low, with the best reported efficiency being 14% and realistically achievable efficiencies being likely much lower than 10%. (see the bottom green line of this diagram)

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