Advances in research and development of solar panel technology are fueled by the rising demand for solar power. However, since the introduction in the 1950s of the monocrystalline solar panel, the technology for generating solar energy hasn’t changed much. It just improved in quality, efficiency, and versatility.
The monocrystalline solar panel technology is being challenged by both emerging and established technology on factors like versatility, efficiency, and price. The first generation of thin film solar panel technology and solar photovoltaic modules made from polycrystalline silicon are giving industrial, commercial, utility and residential clients a variety of options. Here are some comparisons.
Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Panels
The monocrystalline silicon solar panel technology is the first that has been developed, as mentioned above. These panels are measured by the output of according to the panel’s size; this is the best technology regarding efficiency. However, this high efficiency comes also with higher costs. The monocrystalline solar panels are produced by growing a single crystal. Monocrystalline panels are cut into distinctive patterns because these crystals are usually an oval shape. Monocrystalline panels have a recognizable appearance with sliced silicon cells exposing missing corners in a grid-like structure. In a monocrystalline solar panel, the crystal framework is even, with no grain marks, producing a steady blue color. Due to this even crystal framework, the monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency levels and the best purity.
Polycrystalline Silicon Solar Panels
Polycrystalline solar panels are manufactured by pouring into a cast some molten silicon. The crystal structure will form imperfectly because of this construction method. Where the crystal formation breaks, the crystal structure is creating boundaries. For this reason, the polycrystalline silicon has a distinctive, grainy appearance. The boundaries in the crystal are highlighted by the gemstone type pattern. When compared with monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon is less efficient because of these impurities in the crystal. But this manufacturing process also comes with some advantages. On of these advantages is its affordable cost compared to the monocrystalline silicon, because it uses fewer materials and energy.
Thin-Film Solar Panels
At the moment, thin-film is the technology with the lowest market share. This technology comes with several disadvantages, but it can prove a good option for projects with needs for portability and light weight and lesser power requirements. The most common material used in thin film technologies is the amorphous silicon at 12.5 percent. The maximum efficiency achieved by thin-film technologies is 20.3 percent.
A variety of materials can be used for manufacturing of thin-film solar panel. The main options are amorphous silicon (a-Si), copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS), and cadmium telluride (CdTe). Thin-film solar cells are based on a technology that is still emerging, and for this reason, they have the potential to become less expensive. Tech experts forecast that price consideration could make thin-film technology more competitive, having the potential to become a driver in the consumer market.
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