Solar Power » Technologies

PV Cells & Modules

  Crystalline Photovoltaics Thin Film Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV)
  PV Module with crystalline structure
(credit: Sharp)
PV Thin-film module
(credit: sikod.com)
CSP Module
(credit: SolFocus)
Description Crystalline silicon wafers Semiconductor is deposited directly on glass. With the help of parabolic mirrors, light is focused on a small area, thus needing less semiconductor material. These devices can then afford high-performing semiconductors.
Module Efficiency High Low High, but have some optical losses
Performance under heat Performance degrades with higher temperatures. Up to 60% lower heat coefficient than crystalline silicon modules, making it a good choice in hot climates. Depending on material used.
Space required per kWp

Polycrystalline: 10m² - 30m² depending on cell spacing

Monocrystalline: > 8m²

Glass-glass laminate ~ 25m²  
Amount of photovoltaic material needed Polysilicon: 8g/W CdTe: 0.22g/W At concentration ratio of 500, approximately 900 times less photovoltaic material is needed.
Panel Choice Only 2 panel types Many different panel types, can be rolled. For free-standing, need tracking.
Degradation No known degradation. Will depend on heat and material. Amorphous silicon can lose up to 30% within the first 3-6 months when its rated power is reached. They are stable thereafter.  
Direct or diffuse light Direct light preferred, but diffuse light can be used too. Both direct and diffuse light Requires direct light only, as diffuse light can not be concentrated with exception of luminescent concentrators.
Sub-Types Mono- crystalline Poly- crystalline CdTe CIGS a-Si Multi Junction Low Concentration High Concentration
  Purity 99.99999% Purity 99.9999% low temperature sensitivity captures large spectrum Amorphous Silicon


GaAs/CIS
a-Si/mc-Si

with crystalline semiconductor with multi- junction GaInP/GaAs/Ge or GaInP/GaAs with >30% efficiency
Environmental impact from production     Cd is itself a waste product from mining industry. Highly toxic. Must be recycled          
Efficiency
(production / lab)
15-20% / 25% 13 - 15% / 21% 10% / 16% 12% / 20% 7% / 10% 36% / 40%

 

Cell: 35%, module: 24%
Companies

Sunpower
Solarworld
Isofoton

Sharp
Kyocera
Q-Cells
Suntech
Yingli
Evergreen

FirstSolar
AvaSolar
Calyxo

Nanosolar
GlobalSol
Solibro

Unisolar
Sontar
Spectrolab
EMCore

Entech Solar
Isofoton

SolFocus

 

PV Cell Efficiency - Cost MatrixPV Cell Efficiency versus Cost


This matrix provides an indication of the relationship between cost and efficiency of photovoltaic material. The most efficient, but also most costly remains the multi-junction material. Therefore, this material is only used in cases where area limitation is the most important factor, for instance in space technology. Otherwise, this material is only used in conjunction with concentrating devices as outlined above.

Note that this picture only shows the relationship between photovoltaic efficiency and cost of photovoltaic material rather than cost of the total system. Low efficiency may impact on costs for mounting, wiring and land ownership, as more area needs to be covered for the same rated power. Hence, costs could go up further even when module costs per kWh are the same.

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