Solar Pv Panels Types

Solar Pv Panels Types

The following are the different types of solar cells.
Amorphous Silicon solar cell (a-Si)
Biohybrid solar cell.
Cadmium telluride solar cell (CdTe)
Concentrated PV cell (CVP and HCVP)
Copper indium gallium selenide solar cells (CI(G)S)
Crystalline silicon solar cell (c-Si)
Float-zone silicon.

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Monocrystalline solar panels

Also known as single-crystal panels, these are made from a single pure silicon crystal that is cut into several wafers. Since they are made from pure silicon, they can be readily identified by their dark black color. The use of pure silicon also makes monocrystalline panels the most space-efficient and longest-lasting among all three solar panel types. However, this comes at a cost — a lot of silicon is wasted to produce one monocrystalline cell, sometimes reaching over 50%. This results in a hefty price tag.

Polycrystalline solar panels

As the name implies, these come from different silicon crystals instead of one. The silicon fragments are melted and poured into a square mold. This makes polycrystalline cells much more affordable since there is hardly any wastage, and gives them that characteristic square shape. However, this also makes them less efficient in terms of energy conversion and space, since their silicon purity and construction are lower than monocrystalline panels. They also have lower heat tolerance, which means they are less efficient in high-temperature environments.

Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) panels

PERC solar panels are an improvement of the traditional monocrystalline cell. This relatively new technology adds a passivation layer in the rear surface of the cell that enhances efficiency in several ways: It reflects light back into the cell, increasing the amount of solar radiation that gets absorbed. It reduces the natural tendency of electrons to recombine and inhibit the flow of electrons in the system. It allows greater wavelengths of light to be reflected. Light waves over 1,180nm can’t be absorbed by silicon wafers and simply pass through, so they end up heating the cell’s metal back sheet and reduce its efficiency. The passivation layer reflects these higher wavelengths and stops them from heating up the back sheet. PERC panels allow greater solar energy collection in a smaller physical footprint, which makes them ideal for limited spaces. They are only slightly more expensive to produce than traditional panels, due to the added materials needed, but they can be manufactured on the same equipment, and can end up having a lower average cost per watt due to their efficiency.

Thin-film solar panels

Thin-film panels are characterized by very fine layers that are thin enough to be flexible. Each panel does not require a frame backing, making them lighter and easier to install. Unlike crystalline silicon panels that come in standardized sizes of 60, 72, and 96-cell counts, thin-film panels can come in different sizes to suit specific needs. However, they are less efficient than typical silicon solar panels.

Thin-Film Solar Panel Variations

Unlike crystalline panels that use silicon, thin-film solar panels are made from different materials. These are: Cadmium telluride (CdTe) Amorphous silicon (a-Si) Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) Cadmium telluride (CdTe) CdTe has the same low-cost advantage as polycrystalline cells while possessing the lowest carbon footprint, water requirement, and energy payback time of all solar panels types. However, the toxic nature of cadmium makes recycling more expensive than other materials.

Amorphous silicon (a-Si)

Amorphous silicon panels (A-Si) derive their name from their shapeless nature. Unlike mono-and polycrystalline solar cells, the silicon is not structured on the molecular level. On average, an a-Si cell requires only a fraction of the silicon needed to produce typical silicon cells. This allows them to have the lowest production cost, at the expense of efficiency. This is why a-Si panels are suited for applications that require very little power, such as pocket calculators.

Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS)

CIGS panels use a thin layer of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium deposited on a glass or plastic backing. The combination of these elements results in the highest efficiency among thin-panel types, though still not as efficient as crystalline silicon panels.

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