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Thin-Film Solar Cells

- Jan 22, 2018 -

Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)


Depositing one or several thin layers of photovoltaic material onto a substrate is the basic gist of how thin-film solar cells are manufactured. They are also known as thin-film photovoltaic cells (TFPV). The different types of thin-film solar cells can be categorized by which photovoltaic material is deposited onto the substrate:


Amorphous silicon (a-Si)

Cadmium telluride (CdTe)

Copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS)

Organic photovoltaic cells (OPC)

Depending on the technology, thin-film module prototypes have reached efficiencies between 7–13% and production modules operate at about 9%. Future module efficiencies are expected to climb close to the about 10–16%.[4]


The market for thin-film PV grew at a 60% annual rate from 2002 to 2007.[5] In 2011, close to 5% of U.S. photovoltaic module shipments to the residential sector were based on thin-film.[1]


Thin-film solar panels


Advantages


Mass-production is simple. This makes them and potentially cheaper to manufacture than crystalline-based solar cells.

Their homogenous appearance makes them look more appealing.

Can be made flexible, which opens up many new potential applications.

High temperatures and shading have less impact on solar panel performance.

In situations where space is not an issue, thin-film solar panels can make sense.

 

Disdvantages


Thin-film solar panels are in general not very useful for in most residential situations. They are cheap, but they also require a lot of space. SunPower`s monocrystalline solar panels produce up to four times the amount of electricity as thin-film solar panels for the same amount of space.

Low space-efficiency also means that the costs of PV-equipment (e.g. support structures and cables) will increase.

Thin-film solar panels tend to degrade faster than mono- and polycrystalline solar panels, which is why they typically come with a shorter warranty.

 

Solar panels based on amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride and copper indium gallium selenide are currently the only thin-film technologies that are commercially available on the market:


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