As solar panels convert energy from the sun into electricity to power our homes, offices and even the machinery used in the factories. Used on an industrial scale, the use of solar power increases rapidly every day.
But did you know there are several types of solar panels which different configuration of cells on each panel. In this blog you will read about several types of Photovoltaic cell technologies that dominate the world market and help harvest electricity produced by solar energy.
Let’s get into the blog!
Monocrystalline Silicon Cells
The first commercially available solar cells were made from monocrystalline silicon, an extremely pure form of silicon. To make them, a seed crystal is extracted from a mass of molten silicon, creating a cylindrical ingot with a single continuous crystal.
This crystal is then mechanically cut into thin wafers, polished and doped to create the required p-n junction. After applying an anti-reflective coating and the front and rear metal contacts, the cell is finally wired and packed into a grid structure along with many other cells into a full solar panel. Monocrystalline silicon cells are very efficient, but their manufacturing process is slow and cumbersome, making them more expensive than their polycrystalline or thin-film counterparts.
Polycrystalline Silicon Cells
This type of semiconductor cell generally has a lower conversion efficiency compared to monocrystalline cells, but the manufacturing cost is also lower. The polycrystalline material consists of numerous smaller crystals, so that the orderly arrangement is interrupted from one crystal to another.
The cell efficiency is typically 13% to 15%. Polycrystalline silicon is also widely used because it is less expensive than monocrystalline silicon. One variation of the polycrystalline silicon wafer is ribbon silicon, which is formed by drawing thin flat films. While less efficient, cells made from silicon ribbon are less expensive because they do not require the cutting of ingot wafers.
Another polycrystalline cell is a cadmium telluride thin film which is a good match for the solar spectrum as it uses the part of the solar spectrum with the highest energies. It also has a high absorption of photons. It is cheaper than silicon and is more efficient than amorphous silicon.
Another example of a polycrystalline semiconductor is copper indium gallium diselenide (CuInGaSe2 CIGS). This compound semiconductor material is usually used in thin-film solar cells. It is generally more efficient and has one of the highest absorption rates of all semiconductors. It can also generate more electricity per unit area than other thin film technologies.
Thin-Film Photovoltaic Cells
Although crystalline photovoltaic cells dominate the market, cells can also be made from thin films, which makes them much more flexible and durable. One type of thin-film photovoltaic cell is amorphous silicon (aSi), which is produced by depositing thin layers of silicon on a glass substrate.
The result is a very thin and flexible cell that uses less than 1% of the silicon needed to make a crystalline cell. Because of this reduction in raw material and a less energy-intensive manufacturing process, amorphous silicon cells are much cheaper to manufacture.
However, their efficiency is greatly reduced because silicon atoms are much less ordered than in their crystalline form, leaving behind “dangling bonds” that connect to other elements and make them electrically inactive. These cells also suffer a 20% drop in performance in the first few months of operation before stabilization and are therefore sold with performance values based on their deteriorated performance. Other types of thin film cells include copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride (CdTe).
Hybrid Silicon Solar Cells
With 18% efficiency, hybrid solar modules are made from a mixture of amorphous and monocrystalline cells to achieve maximum efficiency. There are a variety of hybrid cell types that are still in the research and development stage.
Therefore, they are currently a more expensive option Hybrid photovoltaic solar cell Hybrid silicon Typical efficiency 18%. The most expensive but also most efficient type of photovoltaic cell on the market uses a combination of monocrystalline and amorphous cells for maximum efficiency.
Organic Photovoltaic Cell
Another type of thin film cell is the organic photovoltaic (OPV) cell. In its basic form, OPV consists of a single layer of active polymer material (the dye) that is sandwiched between two electrodes. Very low cost.
They can be produced in large numbers. One disadvantage is that they are inefficient. Researchers are currently working to improve these cells through a variety of materials, tiered connections, and manufacturing processes.
Third Generation Solar Cells
The latest solar cell technologies combine the best properties of crystalline silicon and thin film solar cells to provide high efficiency and better usability. They usually consist of amorphous silicon, organic polymers or perovskite crystals and have several transitions made of layers of different semiconductor materials.
These cells have the potential to be cheaper, more efficient, and more practical than other types of cells, and have been shown to be capable of deficiency of around 30 ° (with a tandem perovskite silicon solar cell).
Use of Solar Concentration System
Another technological innovation that has been developed in recent years is the so-called solar concentration technique, which makes it possible to improve the use of renewable energies per square meter of photovoltaic panel.
This technology is based on the concentration of solar radiation on a small area (cellular photovoltaics) with an optical concentrator, for example through a Fresnel lens (magnifying glass effect) or a reflector, such as a simple mirror, with which a significant increase in the incident solar radiation This technology is also known as a solar oven.
In any case, concentration systems have the disadvantage that they almost exclusively use direct sunlight, which is why the use of precise monitoring systems is essential for concentration panels.
The Future of Solar Panel Technology
As the solar energy industry is moving forward rapidly across the world, people are more interested in opting for greener technologies for their houses, workplaces and even the markets. There is a huge search for cheaper and more eco-friendly solar cells which are a less toxic version of solar cells.
Hope this article helped you understand the different types of Solar Photovoltaic Cells!