Solar - Manufacturing

solar
Articles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-B4AS3sfE - Quantum Dot Solar Cells. The Next Big Thing in Photovoltaics

http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/44498/rayton-solar-inc-launches-regulation-a-equity-crowdfunding-campaign-as-next-phase-of-funding-for-solar-panel-manufacturing-project/

Czochralski process
String Ribbon technology: String Ribbon solar panels are also made out of polycrystalline silicon. String Ribbon is the name of a manufacturing technology that produces a form of polycrystalline silicon. Temperature-resistant wires are pulled through molten silicon, which results in very thin silicon ribbons. Solar panels made with this technology looks similar to traditional polycrystalline solar panels. The manufacturing of String Ribbon solar panels only uses half the amount silicon as monocrystalline manufacturing. The manufacturing of String Ribbon solar panels is significantly more energy extensive and more costly. Efficiency is at best on par with the low-end polycrystalline solar panels at around 13-14%. In research laboratories, researchers have pushed the efficiency of String Ribbon solar cells as high as 18.3%. String Ribbon solar panels have the lowest space-efficiency of any of the main types of crystalline-based solar panels. http://energyinformative.org/best-solar-panel-monocrystalline-polycrystalline-thin-film/

http://solar.gwu.edu/q-a/what-are-perovskite-cells
http://solar.gwu.edu/q-a/what-are-organic-solar-cells

How solar cell work:
http://solarlove.org/how-solar-cells-work-components-operation-of-solar-cells/
http://solarlove.org/solar-cell-model-and-its-characteristics/

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/which-new-crystalline-silicon-pv-technology-concepts-actually-hold-promise - printed, quality

http://solarmfg.com/about-us/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmF9fLvCEDw - Super Solar Cells
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3xOUuieOiA - Next-Gen Solar Panels: More Power from the Sun
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AnMsyIT26A - The Future of Solar Energy is TINY Technology!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWOxnXKB8VQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6UgV3gVmd0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKWPht3fU-o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5uiK_QnyrE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyf-17lWkYE
http://www.treehugger.com/solar-technology/wanted-big-ideas-innovative-applications-thin-film-solar.html
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2002/solarcells/
http://www.homepower.com/articles/solar-electricity/design-installation/finding-sweet-spot
http://energy.gov/eere/cemi/clean-energy-manufacturing-federal-resource-guide
http://www.enfsolar.com/directory/panel/United%20States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_photovoltaics_companies
http://www.americansolarmanufacturing.org/ - Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing

http://www.solar.org/s/34afe62/

Flexible Solar Panels: http://www.diynetwork.com/remodeling/top-three-solar-greenovations/index.html

http://solarpowerauthority.com/solar-shingles-an-alternative-to-solar-panels/

http://www.hgtv.com/remodel/mechanical-systems/attractive-options-in-solar-power
http://www.solarpanelinfo.com/solar-panels/how-are-solar-panels-made.php
http://guardianlv.com/2014/06/solar-sensitive-nanoparticles-could-lead-to-more-cost-efficient-solar-panels/
http://energy.gov/articles/nrels-pv-incubator-where-solar-photovoltaic-records-go-be-broken
http://energy.gov/articles/story-cutting-edge-solar-startup

Companies that currently manufacture solar shingles include SunPower Corporation, Solar Components Corporation, Atlantis Energy Systems, and Dow Chemical.

Peel and stick solar panels

Polymers

Monocrystalline or single crystal silicon
Multicrystalline silicon
Polycrystalline silicon
Amorphous silicon.

http://www.solar-facts-and-advice.com/amorphous-silicon.html
http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~dbirnie/solarclass/amorphousSi.pdf
http://phy.syr.edu/~schiff/Publications/DengHandbookPV03.pdf
http://energyinformative.org/amorphous-silicon-solar-panels/
http://energy.gov/eere/sunshot/amorphous-silicon
http://panasonic.net/energy/amorton/en/solar_battery/
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140213122404.htm
https://www.princeton.edu/~sturmlab/pdfs/publications/CP.275.pdf

The bandgap of a semiconductor material is an amount of energy. Specifically, the bandgap is the minimum energy needed to move an electron from its bound state within an atom to a free state. This free state is where the electron can be involved in conduction. The lower energy level of a semiconductor is called the "valence band." The higher energy level where an electron is free to roam is called the "conduction band." The bandgap (often symbolized by Eg) is the energy difference between the conduction band and valence band. Solar cell material has an abrupt edge in its absorption coefficient; because light with energy below the material's bandgap cannot free an electron, it isn't absorbed. http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/small-solar-electric-systems

Thin film solar cells use layers of semiconductor materials only a few micrometers thick. Thin film technology has made it possible for solar cells to now double as these materials:

  • Rooftop or solar shingles
  • Roof tiles
  • Building facades
  • Glazing for skylights or atria.

Current issues with commercially available solar shingles include their lower efficiencies and greater expense compared with the standard home solar electric system. http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/small-solar-electric-systems

In addition to solar cells, a typical PV module or solar panel consists of these components:

  • A transparent top surface, usually glass
  • An encapsulant — usually thin sheets of ethyl vinyl acetate that hold together the top surface, solar cells, and rear surface
  • A rear layer — a thin polymer sheet, typically Tedlar, that prevents the ingress of water and gases
  • A frame around the outer edge, typically aluminum.

Can we combine solar electric with solar thermal to improve solar electric efficiency in geographical locations / areas with extremely hot temperature where solar electric does not function quite well? Perhaps the extra heat can be absorbed by the solar thermal (solar hot water heater) system somehow? Perhaps the extra heat can be routed to cold water via a wire (sort of like a geothermal system)?

BIPV (building integrated photovoltaic) tiles that look like regular shingles (although these are usually more expensive, so payback will be longer than regular panels.)
http://www.solaramerica.org/2014/07/02/solar-genius-solar-shingles/

http://www.californiasolarcenter.org/history_pv.html

http://www.geek.com/science/sea-salt-can-replace-solar-panel-component-for-0-3-the-cost-1598014/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYJe12X6T50 - Thin film
http://solarpowerrocks.com/buying-solar/solar-info-thin-film-video/

http://videos.hgtv.com/video/solar-power-0109247
http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/affordable-solar/solar-info-thin-film-or-silicon/
http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/solar-components/video-great-solar-pv-explanation/
http://solarpowerauthority.com/avasolar/
http://www.mrsolar.com/ - scroll to the middle of the page
http://www.solarpanelinfo.com/solarprojects/CIGS-ultra-thin-solar-panels.php
http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/solar-cell.htm/printable

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYy0beorZHk - Solar Cell Technology in 2009 and Beyond - 1:03:41
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL4jpfeJNBE - Solar Cells Lecture 4: What is Different about Thin-Film Solar Cells? - 1:19:30
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h47Zdbj4NQk - Public Lecture—Printing Solar Cells for Greener Energy - 1:18:15

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr-grdspEWQ - Solar Power Revolution - Here Comes The Sun - Documentary - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZKEkwOJ9Nw - Solarworld Production Process - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtcuKXofA5I - The SolarWorld Standard - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZavMbtg3lM - SOLON SE Production Process of Solar Modules - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKrOZ6OogmQ - How it's made - Solar panel - ECOPROGETTI - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LxM2skgfQo - China reduces solar power costs with large-scale manufacturing - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q_n4vdyZzc - Semiconductor Technology at TSMC, 2011 - good, done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihEIaYsB4yg - Bosch Solar Panel Production Line (New) - done watching (no voice, just text and music)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXD8axSgIL8 - Space Engineers - Solar Panels & Thruster Back Blast OH NO !!!! - game oriented
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh2z-g7GJxE -From sand to silicon - quite hard to understand - done watching but not understand
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvluuAIiA50 - GLOBALFOUNDRIES Sand to Silicon - quite hard to understand - done watching but not understand
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeGqCl3YAaQ - Intel Factory Tour - 32nm Manufacturing Technique - done watching, just music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6sxdejGOqw - Make Pure Silicon Dioxide - good, done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1eO3PCNvDI- Isolation of Silicon (Thermite with Sand) - good, done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHb7zTWe5z4 - Cut of a Silicon Ingot with diamond wire by Diamond Pauber - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x59O8D2CW5Y - Season 1: How to make Elemental Silicon (Si) - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PXtVm7_YCI - Solar Factory in China Trip - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73YmP_JSrlU - Make Thermite out of Sand - done watching
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZOfSlGxqho - Silicon: The Element - done watching - good
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWVywhzuHnQ - How do they make Silicon Wafers and Computer Chips? - done watching - good
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wi5zWSD-6I - Faces of Chemistry: Organic solar cells (BASF) - good
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4ijytgeD60 - Solar panel production line ( Low investment ) - reoo.net
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VluPL90yDBc - Thin and inexpensive: Organic Solar Cells | Tomorrow Today - 4:54
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIJx2PRGKqw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k12GMjtN8aA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20GlFVyxqHY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZOyhnlY0Hs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC7ey2E8Nyk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctCtkVL29Vg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiwtk3lM8q8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWa6SBiyiHY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB4BqZtwQGI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9zIe3NCEfk
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tWlP0knKQU
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4riNlqZHCTQ
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ugk2_tI6AN8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSZGUV8D19I
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsUfIY37pII
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZqYnrWCrcM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XIL9BgPZX0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL4jpfeJNBE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTLsSmrgV_g&list=PL7E30F0F5CA6BBB6F
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIXkB5nrEiY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp0RFd5rsz8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W837wfEOLUM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMgQ1-HdElM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2KcZGwntgg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1fx1ClmS8w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT2mHD53wqQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyuP7bUz6aQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAmwaNwu5XM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw3qCLOXmi0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVw_S1v_mFQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLk1dv9VXZQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOuyZWqhlNU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ1SC-vUe_I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpNhYsJa_v8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1glfC52wmg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-B4AS3sfE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5evOIe4IvP8 - Printing Australia's largest solar cells
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mzq_qWIhamQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdQK5wq4T_E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEKX_bJ70BU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMoRkEffFOQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHi27IknPI4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGkU8cHHSMU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBLZmwlPa8A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6UgV3gVmd0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4l3pBovB_c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Hy2_rwzmY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY8GNSi4MsU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gmMX2cfqos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5dx7jQF1WQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajQCi1aOBOE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM9aPy7H534
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1hWVDGJjFg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Eg_YlI7l4E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkzoSJ0nC-k
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7uT7-AfLEI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Huq3QXF7Y
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRBMdS4t36c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jctk0DI7YP8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLNsYecX_2Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylk6VMBLrvM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FLBtQC0F0c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO5FgM7MLGg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOVVtog2lH4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6n1lEHCFM0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRBRdatmQhI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lueB6RvqMSo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX-AyZpLvRE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbyu1tbGE38
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdcKwOo7dmM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kv7QHQ0bc_0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CitNalVs01M
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ssf8sTYL5Sc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDpVEX5SZzg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMm-YMO5H7o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNtQQm8dczU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65g6GRF6c2g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckFieEHG7TU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0WEx0Gwk1E - EEVblog #532 - Silicon Chip Wafer Fab Mailbag
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWVywhzuHnQ&list=PLSQ_TOIEHG1oCjJOvsWnQFNU9a_wMoXvZ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWfCqpJzJYM&list=PL6780D6D563CEED8F

http://www.seia.org/policy/manufacturing-trade/solar-manufacturing-incentives - done reading
http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/top-chinese-manufacturers-will-produce-solar-panels-for-42-cents-a-wat - done reading
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/business/energy-environment/solar-powers-dark-side.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 - Solar Industry Anxious Over Defective Panels - done reading
http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Innovations-in-Solar-Silicon-Offer-Hope-to-Struggling-PV-Supply-Chain-New - done reading
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/When-Will-the-Pain-Subside-GTM-Forecasts-21GW-of-PV-Module-Capacity-to-Ret - done reading
https://www.greentechmedia.com/research/report/innovations-in-crystalline-silicon-pv-2013 - done reading
http://www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2012/10/16/report-180-solar-panel-makers-will-disappear-by-2015/ - done reading
http://solarlove.org/top-solar-module-manufacturers-2013/ - done reading
http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2012/01/globalwatt_ceo_were_not_invest.html - done reading
http://www.mlive.com/business/mid-michigan/index.ssf/2014/07/solar_manufacturer_suniva_comi.html - done reading
http://www.spirecorp.com/spire-solar/solar-manufacturing-equipment/ - done reading
http://www.solarworld-usa.com/solar-101/making-solar-panels - printed, done reading
http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Solar-Cell.html - printed, done reading
http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/solar-cell-manufacturing-costs-0905 - printed, done reading
http://www.solarpanelscostguide.com/ - printed, done reading
http://science.howstuffworks.com/3882-solar-panel-manufacturing-video.htm
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/start-solar-cell-manufacturing-company-15208.html - printed,done reading
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/involved-solar-cell-business-15085.html - printed, done reading
http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/solar_electricity/basics/how_cells_made.htm - printed, done reading
http://www.solarpanelinfo.com/solar-panels/how-are-solar-panels-made.php - printed, done reading
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429170/new-method-makes-solar-cell-production-cheaper-easier/ - printed, done reading
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/422856/silicon-solar-cells-ditch-the-wafers/ - printed, done reading
http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/thin-film-solar-cell3.htm - printed, done reading
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Solar-Cells - printed, done reading
http://www-inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~ee143/fa10/lectures/Lec_26.pdf - printed, done reading
http://www.reuk.co.uk/How-are-Solar-Panels-Made.htm - printed without photos, done reading
http://www.reuk.co.uk/How-Do-PV-Solar-Panels-Work.htm - printed without photos, done reading
http://www.reuk.co.uk/Concentrating-Solar-Voltaics.htm - printed without photos, done reading
http://www.reuk.co.uk/Multi-Junction-Solar-Cells.htm - printed without photos, done reading
http://www.reuk.co.uk/Water-Heating-with-Surplus-Solar-PV.htm - printed without photos, done reading
http://www.reuk.co.uk/Solar-Roof-Tiles.htm - printed without photos, done reading
http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/08/07/regulating-electron-spin-may-be-key-to-making-organic-solar-cells-competitive/ - done reading
http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/09/natcore-plans-for-low-cost-black-silicon-solar-cells/
http://solarpower.com/blog/nanotechnology-to-produce-solar-steam/
http://planetsave.com/2012/08/28/low-cost-high-efficiency-solar-power-breakthrough/
http://solarpower.com/blog/using-nanoscale-structures-for-better-solar-cells-and-led-displays/
http://www.pveducation.org/pvcdrom
http://www.madehow.com/knowledge/Polycrystalline_silicon.html
http://www.uni-solar.com/
http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/how-does-solar-energy-work.html
http://www.reuk.co.uk/40-Percent-Efficiency-PV-Solar-Panels.htm

http://www.davidreneke.com/build-a-sun-funnel/#
http://www.rehnu.com/technology/receivers-and-cooling
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/solarcell-98b.html
http://www.superskylights.com/why-solatube.asp
http://www.google.com/patents/US4723535
http://rimstar.org/solar_cooking/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/sanyo-offers-more-pv-power-per-square-foot-with-new-hit-power-22a-solar-modules.aspx - done reading

SANYO HIT Power® solar modules are made of 72 hybrid HIT cells that combine two best-of-breed solar technologies — high efficiency monocrystalline silicon with ultra-thin layers of amorphous silicon. The monocrystalline silicon is sandwiched between the amorphous-Si to offer superior conversion efficiency, excellent temperature characteristics and considerable output under diffuse and low light conditions.

SANYO’s HIT Double glass-on-glass modules utilize the bifacial characteristics of HIT cells to generate up to 30% more energy from the panel’s back-side, depending on mounting surface conditions. The HIT Double panels present us with an out-of-the-box solution with more versatility and functionality than traditional roof-mount systems. These are solutions that can be integrated right into the building. These are not just eye-catching, but reliable systems with revenue potential.

The ability of HIT cells to produce electricity from incident sunlight makes the HIT® Double panels popular for building-integrated designs like awnings, pergolas and carports. SANYO even manufactures some of its own silicon ingots and wafers, core materials in the manufacturing of all SANYO solar cells and modules, in the U.S.A at SANYO facilities in Carson, CA and Salem, OR.

conventional crystalline silicon (c-si)

crystalline silicon PV manufacturing — including new sawing techniques, thinner wafers, conductive adhesives, and frameless modules — companies are able to squeeze more pennies off the cost of each panel. However, as the chart above shows, innovating "outside the module" to reduce the installed cost of solar will be increasingly important as companies find it harder to realize cost reductions in manufacturing.

CdTe module

CdTe has a far better temperature curve than c-si so is much better in kWh per kW terms in hot climates.

What are the known techniques / technologies for making solar cells?

  • The traditional way of making monocrystalline silicon crystal which involve heating raw silicon material into an ingot, cutting the ingot into wafers, and then diffuse it with boron or phosphorous to form n-type and p-type electrodes.
  • Open-air printing (used to produce thin-film solar cells)
  • Epitaxial growth: Solar cells are produce from silicon gas without going through growing a crystal, cutting ingot.
  • Organic / polymer solar cell
  • Reflective tubes. I am not sure if anybody tried this idea. The idea is that the solar panel consist of small tubes with mirrors inside so that light of all different wavelength can be captured.
  • Heat or pressure charged batteries. Heat from sunlight can cause material to expand, and create pressure on surrounding. Is there such a battery that is recharged by heat or pressure? The solar cell would consist of square pipes. The bottom part would be the battery. The top part would contain material that is easily expand by sunlight and create pressure on the bottom part. What happens when we apply heat to a battery. Is there a material that allow light to go through one way but not the other way, and therefore effectively trap all the light. What are the different way to charge a battery without using electricity or solar panels?
  • Dye
  • What happen when we put salt or sugar under sunlight? Will sugar get oxided? Will this produce any gas?
  • What are different ways to re-charge a battery without using electricity or solar panels?
  • Can we use water in a solar cell somehow?
  • How to synthesize polymers?

How is amorphous si solar cells produced?

Need research. Perhaps see below.

What is the "hardcore" manufacturing cost per watt?

Top Chinese Manufacturers Will Produce Solar Panels for 42 Cents per Watt in 2015. See http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/top-chinese-manufacturers-will-produce-solar-panels-for-42-cents-a-wat

1. These costs are only what I'd call "hardcore" manufacturing costs - depreciation, materials, labor, utilities, and overhead - so they do not include shipping, warranty, SG&A, R&D, or interest expense. We should have been made more explicit in the article itself.

2. Lots of discussion about how these are not "real" costs - they are what they are. We use this definition because it reflects industry progress in manufacturing, and because we can benchmark our results against publicly available datapoints.

3. To those talking about how the current era of constant price declines is ephemeral - I agree. My view is that you're going to see some leveling off/flattening in 2014-15 at ~50c/W. As many have pointed out, no one is making any money where things currently stand, especially when you account for non-core costs mentioned above. Sustainable prices must incorporate these items in the longer term. Going forward, like any other industry, we're going to start seeing cyclical shifts in pricing dynamics once things settle down as regards this gigantic wave of overcapacity the market currently faces. How long that lasts, at the end of the day, is really up to China.

4. At the same time, if the industry invests in more advanced technology platforms than we expect, and/or if consumables pricing can inch down even lower than we expect, these cost estimates will end up being conservative - which means there would be room for pricing to be lower while still driving reasonable margins.

That's the manufacturer's cost to produce. It is not the manufacturer's selling price.

If I was to buy solar cells for a DIY project, how much should I pay?

Last week's spot prices for panels ran from $0.52/watt to $0.99 with an average price of about $0.70. One must buy in quantity to get those sorts of prices. To get from there to a kWh price you've got to add in shipping, inverter, wire, racks, labor, permit costs, etc. Then you need to know your local capacity (how many hours of sunshine you average per day over a year). And then you make an assumption about system payoff time and rate.

What is an example of operating cost for a solar manufacturer?

MEMC operating loss was $665.7 million in 2011. Well, this also depends on the output that they are producing.

What is the expected capacity of solar panels in the US in 2012?

Solar Energy Industries Association said that solar panel generating capacity exploded from 83 megawatts in 2003 to 7,266 megawatts in 2012, enough to power more than 1.2 million homes. Nearly half that capacity was installed in 2012 alone. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/business/energy-environment/solar-powers-dark-side.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

If I have to buy solar cells or solar panels from a Chinese company, which one would I buy it from?

Yingli. “The systems we installed in 2012 had the best performing year yet,” said Lyndon Rive, chief executive of SolarCity, the largest residential solar installer in the United States and a buyer of panels from China’s Yingli Solar and Trina.

“The one thing I can tell you is that Yingli does not cut corners,” said Brian Grenko, vice president for operations at Yingli Americas, adding that only 15 defective modules had been returned to the company out of 2.8 million shipped to the United States since 2009.

The company now offers a comprehensive insurance policy to customers and has established its own testing laboratory in the San Francisco area.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/business/energy-environment/solar-powers-dark-side.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

What does c-si abbreviate for?

Crystalline Silicon

What is Amorphous Silicon (a-si)?

Amorphous silicon solar panels are powerful, emerging line of photovoltaics, that differ in output, structure, and manufacturing process than traditional crystalline silicon. Amorphous silicon solar cells (a-si cells) are developed in a continous roll-to-roll process by vapor-depositing silicon alloys in multiple layers, with each extremely thin layer specializing in the absorption of different parts of the solar spectrum. The result is record-breaking efficiency and reduced materials cost (A-si solar cells are typically thinner than their crystalline counterparts).

Some Amorphous Solar Panels also come with shade-resistant technology or multiple circuits within the cells, so that if an entire row of cells is subject to complete shading, the circuit won't be completely broken and some output can still be gained. The development process of Amorphous Silicon solar panels also renders them much less susceptible to breakage during transport or installation. This can help reduce the risk of damaging your significant investment in a photovoltaic system. See http://www.solarpanelinfo.com/solar-panels/how-are-solar-panels-made.php

Amorphous silicon is basically a trimmed-down version of the traditional silicon-wafer cell. As such, a-Si is well understood and is commonly used in solar-powered electronics. It does, however, have some drawbacks. See http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/thin-film-solar-cell3.htm/printable

Their are two main types of solar panel: crystalline and amorphous. In both cases the key ingredient is silicon. Amorphous panels are typically cheaper to manufacture (and purchase), less susceptible to breakage, and use less silicon, however their power output is typically lower than crystalline panels. See http://www.reuk.co.uk/How-are-Solar-Panels-Made.htm

Amorphous solar panels deteriorate faster than crystalline solar panels and so their power output will fall more quickly during the years of use, but they cope better with partial solar panel shading.

What are the drawbacks / limitations of a-si?

One of the biggest problems with a-Si solar cells is the material used for its semiconductor. Silicon is not always easy to find on the market, where demand often exceeds supply. But the a-Si cells themselves are not particularly efficient. They suffer significant degradation in power output when they're exposed to the sun. Thinner a-Si cells overcome this problem, but thinner layers also absorb sunlight less efficiently. Taken together, these qualities make a-Si cells great for smaller-scale applications, such as calculators, but less than ideal for larger-scale applications, such as solar-powered buildings. See http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/thin-film-solar-cell3.htm/printable

Amorphous panels are typically cheaper to manufacture (and purchase), less susceptible to breakage, and use less silicon, however their power output is typically lower than crystalline panels. See http://www.reuk.co.uk/How-are-Solar-Panels-Made.htm

What is the advantage of a-si solar panels?

Amorphous panels are typically cheaper to manufacture (and purchase), less susceptible to breakage, and use less silicon, however their power output is typically lower than crystalline panels. Amorphous solar panels deteriorate faster than crystalline solar panels and so their power output will fall more quickly during the years of use, but they cope better with partial solar panel shading.

Unlike crystalline solar panels, amorphous panels are not made up of a collection of interconnected solar cells manufactured from expensivecrystalline silicon. Instead a very thin homogenous layer of silicon atoms and dopants is simply sprayed onto a backing material - typically glass or metal, but also on plastic surfaces to make flexible solar panels, or on roofing tiles to make solar roof tiles. The silicon layer produced can be 100 times thinner than the silion wafers in a typical crystalline solar cell greatly reducing material costs and therefore the cost of amorphous solar panels relative to crystalline panels.

An entire solar module is made in one go, so manufacturing costs are reduced by a) not having the expense of making silicon wafers, and b) the simplicity of assembly.

Multi-junction solar cells for example are a recent development in amorphous solar technology using multiple thin layers of doped silicon to capture energy across the whole light spectrum. Multi-junction cells are the most efficient solar cells being manufactured today. See http://www.reuk.co.uk/How-are-Solar-Panels-Made.htm

Are semiconductors insulator in their pure form?

Semiconductors are insulators in their pure form, but are able to conduct electricity when heated or combined with other materials.

What is an n-type semiconductor?

A semiconductor mixed, or "doped," with phosphorous develops an excess of free electrons. This is known as an n-type semiconductor.

What is a p-type semiconductor?

A semiconductor doped with other materials, such as boron, develops an excess of "holes," spaces that accept electrons. This is known as a p-type semiconductor.

What is a junction?

A PV cell joins n-type and p-type materials, with a layer in between known as a junction.

What are the 9 technologies related to c-si?

  1. Quasi-mono wafers
  2. Diamond wire sawing
  3. Kerfless wafers
  4. Selective emitters
  5. Reduced-silver metallization
  6. Dielectric-passivated backside cell architectures
  7. Conductive adhesives
  8. Encapsulant alternatives to EVA
  9. Frameless and plastic-framed module designs

Who are the players associated with the 9 technologies mentioned above?

  1. Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT): Ion implantation diffusion for mono c-Si
  2. Dai Nippon Printing (Tokyo:7912): Polyolefin encapsulant
  3. DuPont (NYSE:DD): Ionomer encapsulant
  4. Hitachi Chemicals (Tokyo:4217): Conductive adhesives for cell interconnection
  5. Komatsu (OTC:KMTUY): Diamond wire sawing
  6. Meyer Burger (SIX:MBTN): Diamond wire sawing
  7. Schmid Group: Mask/etchback selective emitter for multi c-Si and TinPad™ rear metallization

Which type of solar panel is the most efficient and cost effective?

I do not know the answer to this question yet. Among the choices are: Monocrystalline, Multi-crystalline, thin film, c-Si, etc.

The lowest retail price for a multicrystalline silicon solar module is $1.06 per watt (€0.78 per watt) from a German retailer. The lowest retail price for a monocrystalline silicon module is $1.10 per watt (€0.81 per watt), also from a German retailer. Brand, technical attributes, and certifications do matter. The lowest thin film module price is $0.84 per watt (€0.62 per watt) from a Germany-based retailer. As a general rule, it is typical to expect thin film modules to be at a price discount to crystalline silicon (like for module powers). This thin film price is for a 105 watt module. See http://www.solarbuzz.com/facts-and-figures/retail-price-environment/module-prices

What are some alternatives competing with solar?

  • Solar windows that mimic photosynthesis
  • Smaller cells made from tiny, amorphous silicon balls
  • Amorphous silicon and polycrystalline silicon are gaining popularity
  • Minimizing shade and focusing sunlight through prismatic lenses. This involves layers of different materials (notably gallium arsenide and silicon) that absorb light at different frequencies, thereby increasing the amount of sunlight effectively used for electricity production

What is the critical factor determining solar cell efficiency?

One crucial factor determining the solar cell efficiency is the size and distribution of iron particles within the silicon. Even though the silicon used in solar cell has been purified to 99.9999 percent, the tiny remaining amount of iron forms obstacles that can block the flow of electrons. But it's not just the overall amount that matters. It's the exact distribution and size of the iron particles, something that is both hard to predict and hard to measure.

What does I2E abbreviate for?

Impurities to Efficiency.

It is a technology that predict the level of impurity. If a solar cell contains too much impurity, the solar cell will not function, or may burn itself after it had been installed. Using this tool, manufacturers can predict the level of impurity of the material that is used to produce solar cell, and therefore improve the quality and reliability of the solar cells. If the level of impurity in the raw material is too high, the manufacturer can purify the raw material before continuing with solar cell production. The tool helps manufacturers balance product quality against production time. See:

How are solar cells manufactured?

There are different types of solar cells, and there are different ways to manufacture solar cells.

Silicon dioxide of either quartzite gravel or crushed quartz are first placed into an electric arc furnace where carbon arc is applied to release the oxygen. The products are carbon dioxide and molten silicon. This simple process yields silicon with one percent impurity, useful in many industry, but not the solar cell industry. The 99 percent pure silicon is purified even further using the floating zone technique. A rod of impure silicon is passed through a heated zone several times in the same direction. This procedure drags the impurities toward one end with each pass. At a specific point, the silicon is deemed pure, and the impure end is removed. The resulting pure silicon is then doped (treated with) with phosphorous and boron to produce an excess of electrons and a deficency of electrons respectively to make a semiconductor capable of conducting electricity.

The silicon disks are shiny and require an anti-reflective coating, usually titanium dioxide.

The solar module consists of the silicon semiconductor surrounded by protective material in a metal frame. The protective material consists of an encapsulant of transparent silicon rubber or butyryl plastic (commonly used in automobile windshield) bonded around the cells, which are then embedded in ethylene vinyl acetate. A polyester film (such as mylar or tedlar) makes up the backing. A glass cover is found on terrestrial arrays, a lightweight plastic cover on satellite arrays. The electric parts are standard and consist mostly of copper. The frame is either steel or aluminum. Silicon is used as the cement to put it all together.

Silicon cells are made from silicon boules, polycrystalline structures that have the atomic structure of a single crystal. The most commonly used process of creating the boule is called the Czochralski method. In this process, a seed crystal of silicon is dipped into melted polycrystalline silicon. As the seed crystal is withdrawn and rotated, a cylindrical ingot or "boule" of silicon is formed. The ingot withdrawn is unusually pure because impurities tend to remain in the liquid.

Silicon wafers are sliced from the ingot.

Doping: The traditional way of doping (adding impurities to) silicon wafers with boron and phosphorous is to introduce a small amount of boron during the Czochralski process above. The wafers are then sealed back to back and placed in a furnace to be heated to slightly below the melting point of silicon (2,570 degree Fahrenheit or 1410 degrees Celsius) in the presence of phosphorous gas. The phosphorous atoms "burrow" into the silicon, which is more porous because it is close to becoming a liquid. The temperature and time given to the process is carefully controlled to ensure a uniform junction of proper depth. A more recent way of doping silicon with phosphorous is to use a small particle accelerator to shoot phosphorous ions into the ingot. By controlling the speed of the ions, it is possible to control their penetrating depth. This new process, however, has generally not been accepted by commercial manufacturers.

Anti-reflective coating: Because pure silicon is shiny, it can reflect up to 35 percent of the sunlight. To reduce the amount of sunlight lost, an anti-reflective coating is put on the silicon wafer. The most commonly used coatings are titanium dioxide, though other materials are also used. The material used for coating is either heated until its molecules boil off and travel to the silicon and condense, or the material undergoes sputtering. In this process, a high voltage knocks molecules off the material and deposits them onto the silicon at the opposite electrode. Yet another method is to allow the silicon itself to react with oxygen- or nitrogen- containing gases to form silicon dioxide or silicon nitride. Commercial solar cell manufacturers use silicon nitride.

The process of fabricating conventional single- and polycrystalline silicon PV cells begins with very pure semiconductor-grade polysilicon - a material processed from quartz and used extensively throughout the electronics industry. The polysilicon is then heated to melting temperature, and trace amounts of boron are added to the melt to create a P-type semiconductor material. Next, an ingot, or block of silicon is formed, commonly using one of two methods: 1) by growing a pure crystalline silicon ingot from a seed crystal drawn from the molten polysilicon or 2) by casting the molten polysilicon in a block, creating a polycrystalline silicon material. Individual wafers are then sliced from the ingots using wire saws and then subjected to a surface etching process. After the wafers are cleaned, they are placed in a phosphorus diffusion furnace, creating a thin N-type semiconductor layer around the entire outer surface of the cell. Next, an anti-reflective coating is applied to the top surface of the cell, and electrical contacts are imprinted on the top (negative) surface of the cell. An aluminized conductive material is deposited on the back (positive) surface of each cell, restoring the P-type properties of the back surface by displacing the diffused phosphorus layer. Each cell is then electrically tested, sorted based on current output, and electrically connected to other cells to form cell circuits for assembly in PV modules. See http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/solar_electricity/basics/how_cells_made.htm

How are thin-film solar cells produced?

Thin-film photovoltaic modules are manufactured by depositing ultra-thin layers of semiconductor material on a glass or thin stainless-steel substrate in a vacuum chamber. A laser-scribing process is used to separate and weld the electrical connections between individual cells in a module. Thin-film photovoltaic materials offer great promise for reducing the materials requirements and manufacturing costs of PV modules and systems.

Thin-film solar cell manufacturers begin building their solar cells by depositing several layers of a light-absorbing material, a semiconductor onto a substrate — coated glass, metal or plastic. The materials used as semiconductors don't have to be thick because they absorb energy from the sun very efficiently. As a result, thin-film solar cells are lightweight, durable and easy to use.

What are the 3 types of thin-film solar cells?

There are three main types of thin-film solar cells, depending on the type of semiconductor used:

  • amorphous silicon (a-Si),
  • cadmium telluride (CdTe)
  • copper indium gallium deselenide (CIGS).

What is the most expensive part of solar manufacturing?

Producing silicon wafers. The Korean company Hanwha SolarOne has shown the first commercial-sized solar panel to use a novel technology for producing silicon wafers, which are the most expensive part of a solar cell. Developed by the Santa Clara, California-based startup Crystal Solar, the technology makes wafers that are less than a third the thickness of conventional wafers. It wastes less silicon during processing than conventional approaches and greatly reduces the amount of equipment needed to make the wafers, potentially cutting wafer costs in half. Wafers account for a third to a half of the cost of making a solar panel. Hanwha has taken a $15 million stake in Crystal and is helping to bring the technology to market. See http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429170/new-method-makes-solar-cell-production-cheaper-easier/

What is the epitaxial growth technique and how does it work?

The normal way to make silicon wafers—the main component of a conventional solar cell—involves making highly purified silicon (called polysilicon), melting it down, and carefully cooling it to produce blocks of crystalline silicon. Those blocks are then sawed to make wafers, a process that requires large, expensive equipment, and one that wastes about half of the expensive purified silicon it starts with.

An early stage of conventional processing derives pure silicon from a gas that contains silicon and other elements. Crystal Solar developed a way to create thin crystalline silicon wafers directly from that gas, eliminating the need to first make polysilicon, melt it down, crystallize it, and saw it. It’s a version of a process used in the chip industry, but it’s far more efficient and faster. The approach reduces costs, not only by reducing silicon waste, but also by eliminating much of the expensive equipment needed to make wafers. Crystal Solar is still working to bring down costs, such as by reducing the cost of its machines for making the wafers and increasing the number of wafers they can produce. He says if Crystal Solar continues to hit its milestones, Hanwha could offer a commercial product that uses the technology in 2014. See http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429170/new-method-makes-solar-cell-production-cheaper-easier/

In today’s conventional solar cells, silicon accounts for about two-thirds of the materials costs. During the four-day process of creating a pure, single-crystal silicon ingot and sawing it down into thin pieces, about half the starting material is lost. Using less silicon in each finished solar cell would further save on materials costs.

Crystal Solar uses a process called epitaxial growth to deposit silicon films directly from gases, eliminating silicon wafers from the process. Over the past two years, the company has adapted the process make very thin single-crystalline silicon solar cells. Crystal Solar says it can make silicon cells that are highly efficient, but thinner than a piece of paper. The sweet spot, it believes, is 40 to 50 micrometers thick, approaching the lower limit of how thin a solar cell can be while still performing up to the material’s theoretical potential. (Much thinner than this, and it won’t absorb enough light.)

For many years, researchers have tried to adapt epitaxial growth methods to make thin single-crystalline solar cells. The chip industry has been using this method for decades—in fact, modern microelectronics has been made possible by machinery that uses high-temperature vacuum chambers to deposit different forms of silicon on top of silicon wafers. (Before starting Crystal Solar, chief technology officer K. V. Ravi was the director of renewables and environment at Applied Materials, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment—including equipment used to grow various forms of epitaxial silicon for computer chips, display electronics, and solar cells.)

But the epitaxial method hasn’t been workable for making thin-film single-crystalline solar cells—the kind with the highest performance. To make the process work for single-crystalline solar cells, Crystal Solar had to remake the processing equipment from the ground up.

Crystal Solar says it has now made the process practical. The semiconductor industry utilizes 5 percent of the silicon in trichlorosilane gas. Ravi says Crystal Solar’s equipment uses 60 to 70 percent of the silicon, and can make a solar cell 20 times faster than making one on conventional epitaxial growth equipment. Academic labs have made similar efficiency demonstrations with very small test cells that have never been scaled up. Crystal Solar has made standard-size solar cells with its process.

Making these thin, high-quality silicon films is one thing, but handling them is quite another. Ravi says the company has also developed equipment to handle, finish, and package the thin silicon sheets to make solar cells, though it is not disclosing details on how it does this.

See http://www.technologyreview.com/news/422856/silicon-solar-cells-ditch-the-wafers/

What is the difference between the technology developed by Crystal Solar and the conventional technology used by other manufacturers?

The normal way to make silicon wafers—the main component of a conventional solar cell—involves making highly purified silicon (called polysilicon), melting it down, and carefully cooling it to produce blocks of crystalline silicon. Those blocks are then sawed to make wafers, a process that requires large, expensive equipment, and one that wastes about half of the expensive purified silicon it starts with.

An early stage of conventional processing derives pure silicon from a gas that contains silicon and other elements. Crystal Solar developed a way to create thin crystalline silicon wafers directly from that gas, eliminating the need to first make polysilicon, melt it down, crystallize it, and saw it. It’s a version of a process used in the chip industry, but it’s far more efficient and faster. The approach reduces costs, not only by reducing silicon waste, but also by eliminating much of the expensive equipment needed to make wafers. Crystal Solar is still working to bring down costs, such as by reducing the cost of its machines for making the wafers and increasing the number of wafers they can produce. He says if Crystal Solar continues to hit its milestones, Hanwha could offer a commercial product that uses the technology in 2014. See http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429170/new-method-makes-solar-cell-production-cheaper-easier/

In today’s conventional solar cells, silicon accounts for about two-thirds of the materials costs. During the four-day process of creating a pure, single-crystal silicon ingot and sawing it down into thin pieces, about half the starting material is lost. Using less silicon in each finished solar cell would further save on materials costs.

Crystal Solar uses a process called epitaxial growth to deposit silicon films directly from gases, eliminating silicon wafers from the process. Over the past two years, the company has adapted the process make very thin single-crystalline silicon solar cells. Crystal Solar says it can make silicon cells that are highly efficient, but thinner than a piece of paper. The sweet spot, it believes, is 40 to 50 micrometers thick, approaching the lower limit of how thin a solar cell can be while still performing up to the material’s theoretical potential. (Much thinner than this, and it won’t absorb enough light.)

For many years, researchers have tried to adapt epitaxial growth methods to make thin single-crystalline solar cells. The chip industry has been using this method for decades—in fact, modern microelectronics has been made possible by machinery that uses high-temperature vacuum chambers to deposit different forms of silicon on top of silicon wafers. (Before starting Crystal Solar, chief technology officer K. V. Ravi was the director of renewables and environment at Applied Materials, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment—including equipment used to grow various forms of epitaxial silicon for computer chips, display electronics, and solar cells.)

But the epitaxial method hasn’t been workable for making thin-film single-crystalline solar cells—the kind with the highest performance. To make the process work for single-crystalline solar cells, Crystal Solar had to remake the processing equipment from the ground up.

Crystal Solar says it has now made the process practical. The semiconductor industry utilizes 5 percent of the silicon in trichlorosilane gas. Ravi says Crystal Solar’s equipment uses 60 to 70 percent of the silicon, and can make a solar cell 20 times faster than making one on conventional epitaxial growth equipment. Academic labs have made similar efficiency demonstrations with very small test cells that have never been scaled up. Crystal Solar has made standard-size solar cells with its process.

Making these thin, high-quality silicon films is one thing, but handling them is quite another. Ravi says the company has also developed equipment to handle, finish, and package the thin silicon sheets to make solar cells, though it is not disclosing details on how it does this.

See http://www.technologyreview.com/news/422856/silicon-solar-cells-ditch-the-wafers/

What are the difference between thin-film and traditional silicon-wafer solar cells?

  • Unlike silicon-wafer cells, which have light-absorbing layers that are traditionally 350 microns thick, thin-film solar cells have light-absorbing layers that are just one micron thick.

Can thin-film solar cell be as thin as ink?

Yes. ne company, Nanosolar, based in San Jose, Calif., has developed a way to make the CIGS material as an ink containing nanoparticles. A nanoparticle is a particle with at least one dimension less than 100 nanometers (one-billionth of a meter, or 1/1,000,000,000 m). Existing as nanoparticles, the four elements self-assemble in a uniform distribution, ensuring that the atomic ratio of the elements is always correct. See http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/thin-film-solar-cell3.htm/printable

What are the layers of a CIGS solar cell?

The layers that make up the two non-silicon thin film solar cells are shown below. Notice that there are two basic configurations of the CIGS solar cell. The CIGS-on-glass cell requires a layer of molybdenum to create an effective electrode. This extra layer isn't necessary in the CIGS-on-foil cell because the metal foil acts as the electrode. A layer of zinc oxide (ZnO) plays the role of the other electrode in the CIGS cell. Sandwiched in between are two more layers — the semiconductor material and cadmium sulfide (CdS). These two layers act as the n-type and p-type materials, which are necessary to create a current of electrons.

What are the two basic configurations of a CIGS solar cell?

  1. CIGS-on-glass
  2. CIGS-on-foil

What are the layers of a CdTe solar cell?

The CdTe solar cell has a similar structure. One electrode is made from a layer of carbon paste infused with copper, the other from tin oxide (SnO2) or cadmium stannate (Cd2SnO4). The semiconductor in this case is cadmium telluride (CdTe), which, along with cadmium sulfide (CdS), creates the n-type and p-type layers required for the PV cell to function.

What is the efficiency of thin-film solar cell compared to traditional wafer solar cell?

The theoretical maximum for silicon-wafer cells is about 50 percent efficiency, meaning that half of the energy striking the cell gets converted into electricity. In reality, silicon-wafer cells achieve, on average, 15 to 25 percent efficiency. Thin-film solar cells are finally becoming competitive. The efficiency of CdTe solar cells has reached just more than 15 percent, and CIGS solar cells have reached 20 percent efficiency.

Thin film modules are very inexpensive, but also quite inefficient (require more area per watt produced). Their efficiency is 10% or less and their long-term durability is often questioned. They are less expensive because they require less of the active material to function (below). In fact, they can be made microscopically thin, flexible and light weight and are deposited on a sheet of glass or metal instead of having to grow ingots and slice wafers. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) is the most cost effective thin film technology. Amorphous silicon is a material used to create panels that can be molded to the shape of almost any surface. Most of the research and development of solar cells is currently being focused on thin film technologies. See http://www.solarpanelscostguide.com/

Why is Cadmium thin-film solar cell considered dangerous?

There are health concerns with the use of cadmium in thin-film solar cells. Cadmium is a highly toxic substance that, like mercury, can accumulate in food chains. This is a blemish on any technology that fancies itself part of the green revolution. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and several other agencies and companies are currently investigating cadmium-free thin-film solar cells. Many of these technologies are proving themselves to be just as efficient as those that require cadmium.

It is probably considered dangerous not from the perspective of the owner / buyer, but from the perspective of manufacturers and their employees who may have to work with Cadmium to produce the solar cell.

How does Nanosolar produce its thin-film solar cell?

Nanosolar makes its solar cells using a process that resembles offset printing. Here's how it works:

  1. Reams of aluminum foil roll through large presses, similar to those used in newspaper printing. The rolls of foil can be meters wide and miles long. This makes the product much more adaptable for different applications.
  2. A printer, operating in an open-air environment, deposits a thin layer of semiconducting ink onto the aluminum substrate. This is a huge improvement over CIGS-on-glass or CdTe cell manufacturing, which requires that the semiconductor be deposited in a vacuum chamber. Open-air printing is much faster and much less expensive.
  3. Another press deposits the CdS and ZnO layers. The zinc oxide layer is non-reflective to ensure that sunlight is able to reach the semiconductor layer.
  4. Finally, the foil is cut into sheets of solar cells. Sorted-cell assembly, similar to that used in conventional silicon solar technology, is possible in Nanosolar's manufacturing process. That means the electrical characteristics of cells can be matched to achieve the highest panel efficiency distribution and yield. CIGS-on-glass solar panels don't offer sorted-cell assembly. Because their panels consist of cells that are not well matched electrically, their yield and efficiency suffer significantly.

The presses used in semiconductor printing are easy to use and maintain. Not only that, very little raw material is wasted. This contributes to the overall efficiency of the process and drives down the cost of the electricity generated by the solar panels. Electricity from traditional solar panels costs about $3 per watt. Conventional wisdom suggests that solar will not be competitive until it can produce electricity at $1 per watt. Nanosolar claims that its super-efficient manufacturing process and revolutionary semiconducting ink can reduce the cost of making electricity from sunlight to a mere 30 cents per watt. If that holds true, solar may finally be competitive with coal. See http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/thin-film-solar-cell3.htm/printable

What are the two forms of silicon?

Silicon (Si) is an abundant non-metallic chemical element which makes up almost 30% of the earth's crust and is the 7th most common element in the Universe. Silicon has two forms - amorphous (brown), and crystalline (dark).

Why do we not use solar panel with Concentrating Solar?

PV Solar Panels are still very expensive - mirrors and lenses are not. Therefore many researchers are trying to find ways to concentrate the sunlight landing on a large area and focus it onto much smaller super-efficient solar cells. To replicate the power output from a typical utility power plant (1GW) with solar panels would require an area of 4 square miles. That is a lot of silicon and would be very expensive. However, using a plastic fresnel lens (like the type found in lighthouses) covering a couple of square miles together with a few hundred square meters of solar cells, that 1GW of electricity could be generated at a much lower cost. While it is relatively simple to design and build such a system, the stumbling block is heat. When you concentrate sunlight hundreds of times and focus it on a small area - enormous heat is generated.

Common silicon solar cells generate electricity inefficiently: some of the energy of each photon of light absorbed by the cell is converted into electricity, but the rest is released as heat making such cells unsuitable for concentrator applications. However multi-junction solar cells are much more efficient and so do not get so hot. Multi-junction solar cells could be the answer if only they can be manufactured on industrial scales and if suitable active solar cell cooling systems can be developed.

If we do not use solar panels with Concentrating Solar, what do we use?

We use mirrors, lenses, and steam engines. Power plants that use Concentrating Solar use mirrors and lenses to focus sunlight onto pipe of water. The heat collected from sunlight is enough to boil the water in the pipe into steam. The steam is used to power a steam engine, which turns coil of wire inside magnetic field to produce electricity.

What are the difficulties with Concentrating Solar?

One disadvantage of PV concentrators is that they do not generate electricity when the sky is cloudy or when the sunlight is not direct. Therefore concentrating solar voltaic systems need to track the sun on its path across the sky. This results in a system with many moving parts and associated maintenance costs to consider.

How efficient is traditional Concentrating Solar compare to multi-junction?

500,000 of the solar assemblies are destined for just one project in Australia which will generate 11MW - enough to power 3,500 homes in remote communities. Solar Systems, the Australian company managing the project recently upgraded existing silicon PV modules with some of the new multi-junction modules and with just two hours of work increased output from the system from 24kW to 35kW! They have found that they need just 15cm x 15cm of photovoltaic material (0.02 square metres) to power an average household with concentrator technology, compared to 20 square metres (1000x more) of flat plate traditional PV panels. See http://www.reuk.co.uk/Concentrating-Solar-Voltaics.htm

Would you put Concentrating Solar (multi-junction or not) on the roof of your house?

I would have to think twice about this. The idea of using concentrating solar on top of the roof seems a bit crazy to me. The heat from Concentrating Solar can be enough to burn down your house. If the manufacturers warranty that you can put it on your roof, then it probably safe to do, but let see if there are any manufacturer that produce Concentrating Solar for your roof first.

What is the efficiency of most solar panel?

12-18%. While the current industry average for solar panels is 12-18% efficiency, the latest multi-junction cells already offer efficiencies of 40% (for example, these 40% efficiency solar cells from Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab). See http://www.reuk.co.uk/Multi-Junction-Solar-Cells.htm

The highest efficiency available for commercial units is approximately 21%. See http://www.solarpanelscostguide.com/

I read somewhere that solar cell has a maximum theoretical limit around 50%.

How is multi-junction solar cell different from traditional solar cell?

The main idea behide multi-junction solar cell is that it contains multiple layers, each catered to a specific spectrum of light, and is therefore able to convert light into electricity with maximum efficiency.

While the current industry average for solar panels is 12-18% efficiency, the latest multi-junction cells already offer efficiencies of 40%. For all solar cells, photons of sun light hit the cell and are absorbed and converted into electrical current. Sunlight is made up of a broad spectrum covering infrared to ultraviolet with visible light in between. Photons of light have different energy levels depending on the wavelength of sunlight they are carrying. Common silicon cells are designed to absorb visible light, however they do not do so very well: High energy blue light photons do not have all of their energy converted into electricity - some is converted into electricity and the rest is wasted as heat. Low energy red light photons on the other hand pass straight through the solar cell and are not absorbed at all.

A solar cell made of just one material cannot be more than about 30% efficient in theory and below around 25% in practice. Therefore researchers came up with multi-junction solar cells. A multi-junction solar cell is made up of a two or more layers of semi-conductor material - for example, one layer that can absorb blue light well, and a second layer that can absorb red light well. The overall efficiency of this multi-junction solar cell is therefore better than compared to when there was just one material was used.

The ideal solar cell in theory would have hundreds of different layers, each one tuned to a small range of light wavelengths all the way from ultraviolet to infrared. Although this would lead to fantastic efficiencies of over 70% it is not possible in practice due to difficulties in manufacturing such complicated crystals. Therefore researchers have focussed their attentions on multi-junction solar cells with just a few different layers - and they are now managing to reach efficiencies of 35-40% with improvements to come.

The ordering of the layers of a multi-junction solar device are decided by their individual band gaps - i.e. the wavelengths of light they will absorb. On the top - closest to the sun - goes the layer with the largest band gap. Subsequent layers are then positioned in descending order of their band gaps. The highest energy photons (e.g. ultra violet to blue light) are captured by the top layer, and the bottom layer captures the lower energy photons (red to infra red) which pass through the other layers.

See http://www.reuk.co.uk/Multi-Junction-Solar-Cells.htm

Why is multi-junction solar cell expensive?

Due to its nature of having multiple layers, the manufacturing process is more complicated and more expensive compared to traditional solar cell, unless someone can come up with a better and cheaper way to manufacture them.

Though multi-junction solar cells are currently much more expensive than silicon solar cells due to increased manufacturing complexity, they are already seeing service in the space industry with communications satellites now generating double the power output with the same size of solar panel. See http://www.reuk.co.uk/Multi-Junction-Solar-Cells.htm

Did anyone manufacture roof tiles with built-in solar cell?

Yes. Solarcentury (a UK company) make roof tiles with built-in solar cells. For buyers in the UK one option is Solarcentury's C21 solar roof tile which was designed specifically for the UK housing market. See http://www.reuk.co.uk/Solar-Roof-Tiles.htm

What are common chemicals used in solar cells?

  • Silicon
  • CuInSe2
  • GaAs
  • CdTe

What is the average thickness of a crystalline solar cell?

About 0.3mm

What is screen printing?

Need research.

How does Sliver Cell work?

A wafer (assume 150mm diameter) configured as a conventional solar cell has an area of 177cm2. However, the same wafer, when processed to produce Sliver cells, can be used to cover up to 5,000cm2 of module area, which is 30 times better tahn for conventional technology.

Need more research

How does the Amorphous Si Deposition technique work?

  1. Silicon containing gas, SiH4 and H2 flows into a vacuum chamber
  2. RF power applied across two electrode plates
  3. A plasma will occur at a given RF voltage for a specific range of gas pressures
  4. Plasma excites and decomposes the gas and generates radicals and ions
  5. Thin hydrogenated silicon films grow on heated substrates mounted on the electrodes

From Raw Silicon To Solar Cells To Solar Panels.

Solar cells are solid state devices that are used in solar panels for the purpose of converting light energy (photons) into electricity (electrons) through a process known as the photovoltaic effect. The term "photovoltaic" is a Greek derivative coming from the terms (phōs) for light and "voltaic" for electricity. This first cell used Selenium and had an efficiency of about 1%. In 1954 while experimenting with semiconductors, Bell Laboratories introduced the first practical silicon solar cell which was doped with specific impurities that began the evolution of what would become today's much higher efficiency technology.

Solar panels that utilized these early solar PV cells had an efficiency rating of about 6% which was first demonstrated in April of 1954. Today solar panels have dropped dramatically in cost and have efficiencies ranging from about 6% for thin film solar panels up to 18% for front contact mono and poly crystalline technology. Modern panels are used in home solar power applications and Commercial Solar applications as well as off grid solar power and RV solar power uses. Panels systems are even used to provide emergency power and for Solar powered air conditioning systems in homes and businesses.

Mono Crystalline (Single crystal) Silicon Solar Panels

Mono crystalline or single crystalline cells are produced primarily by the Czochralski (Cz) process. The large diameter single crystal silicon ingots that are created from this process are cut into thin wafers using thin wire saws. Conductive energy collection grids are silk screened onto the surface of these wafers and a functional solar cell is produced. Solar panels for your home that utilize single crystalline cells offer among the highest efficiencies available on today's market.

Poly Crystalline (Multi crystal) Silicon Solar Panels

Cells that are created from polycrystalline or (multi crystalline) technology are cut from a silicon boule that has been casted from molten silicon and allowed to cool. The multi crystalline cell is grown from this silicon material forms multifaceted crystals that grows in different directions. Conventional multi crystalline solar cells typically offer a slightly lower efficiency.

Ribbon Silicon Solar Panels

A process which cost less than traditional manufacturing techniques is known as "Ribbon Growth". Silicon is formed directly into thin wafers which avoid the expensive process of sawing silicon from a solid silicon boule. One such method is known as "Edge defined film fed growth" starts with two crystal seeds. A thin layer of silicon is formed as the seeds are pulled from a molten vat of silicon which produces a continuous ribbon of silicon. Solar panels that that use this technology are effective at saving material but the quality of the material produced is not as high as the Czochralski (Cz) process. Cell efficiency may also be reduced. The one company that sold tens of thousands of solar modules in the U.S. that used ribbon silicon technology is now bankrupt which has left the homeowners that purchased these modules without a manufacturer's warranty. Solar home never sold ribbon silicon technologies.

UMG Technology (Upgraded Metallurgical Grade Silicon)

In an effort to save on materials and processing cost. A few manufacturers have turned to less pure silicon to manufacture solar cells that are used in their solar panels. Unlike the nine 9s (99.9999999%) or even the eleven 9s (99.999999999) of purity that is the result of the conventional Siemens process, solar modules that are manufactured using UMG are of less purity which can have an effect on efficiency. Several Canadian based solar companies have introduced these lower cost, lower efficiency based products into the European and U.S. markets. Again Solar Home never has and never will sell UMG solar technology to its customers.

CdTe Solar Technology (Cadmium Telluride)

Like their crystalline silicon thin film cousins, Cadmium Telluride CdTe solar suffers from the same stigma of lower efficiency. The primary difference between both crystalline silicon and Amorphous silicon when compared to CdTe is that CdTe does not utilize silicon in its design.

Instead CdTe solar panels use a compound which is formed by a combination of Cadmium and Tellurium blended with Zinc. Another difference between CdTe and more traditional solar module technologies is that Cadmium one of the substances used to form the compound CdTe is an extremely toxic material with known cancer causing effects which raises concerns among health officials.

Cadmium telluride is toxic, but only if it is ingested or its dust is inhaled. There is also concern if it is handled improperly for example, without the use of appropriate gloves and other safety precautions. Although CdTe modules have been touted as being safe especially once encapsulated in a module, environmental concerns remain if these solar panels are not be disposed of or recycled properly should they become broken, defective, or decommissioned at the end of their life cycle. Due its potential for toxicity Solar Home will not sell solar panels that contain Cadmium Telluride.

Amorphous Silicon Solar (Thin Film Solar Panels)

Unlike crystalline silicon whose atoms are arranged in a very orderly fashion, the atoms in amorphous or thin film solar panels are not arranged in any specific pattern and in fact contain many structural and bonding defects. Amorphous solar panels are made by utilizing a vapor deposition process not unlike spraying the silicon which deposits a microscopic thin layer of doped silicon onto a glass substrate. Although thin film is less costly to manufacture than mono or poly crystalline technology they do suffer from several drawbacks, among them are a much lower efficiency. While mono and poly crystalline solar technologies typically produce power in the 12 to 15 percent efficiency range, thin film technology's efficiency range from 6 to 9 percent. Another drawback with Amorphous technology is an anomaly know as the Staebler-Wronski effect whereby the conversion efficiency of Amorphous solar panels has the tendency to degrade causing a drop in output of up to 20% when it is first exposed to sunlight. Due to it low efficiency Solar Home does not offer Amorphous Silicon solar panels.

With exception to AC solar panels that incorporate micro inverters and a solar module into a single unit, solar panels produce DC current. This is the same type of non varying current that comes from a flashlight or car battery. The voltage and current from a solar panel that produces DC power is constant in nature, varying only as the intensity of light that strikes the panel varies. Compare this to the AC current or alternating current that is produced by a battery based or grid tie only DC to AC inverter.

When used in an off grid application, the solar energy that is produced by solar panels is first stored in batteries which is then fed to an inverter for conversion into AC current. This AC power can be used while the solar panels are producing power during daylight hours or can be used during nighttime hours from the DC energy that is stored in the batteries.

Inverters convert the DC current that is produced by solar panels into a sine wave current that is compatible with the utility grid. Grid tie only inverters do not store energy. A grid tie only inverter converts the DC power that is instantaneously produced by the solar panels during daytime hours and changes (inverts) this solar energy into AC power that is fed to the grid by synchronizing the inverter's AC waveform to the grid's waveform resulting in a reduction or elimination of the grid tie solar system owner's electric bill.

A third type of solar system is known as a grid tie battery back solar system has the ability to synchronize with and feed power to the grid during normal conditions but also has the ability through the use of a transfer switch and batteries to disconnect from the grid during a power outage as required by law and then automatically connect to a separate subpanel that has been installed at the system owner's home and tap into the battery pack to supply the home with electricity during both daytime and nighttime hours.

Grid-tied or grid-interconnected inverters come in many different varieties including conventional string inverters, inverters that use power optimizers for individual solar panel performance boosting and monitoring and shade mitigation and in recent years, micro inverters (a single inverter for each solar panel). Micro inverter have become popular but this older configuration is rapidly losing favor to the much higher performance power optimizer offerings. Solar Home does offer micro inverters but highly recommends against their use when compared to solar power optimizers.

Solar panels are available from many different manufacturers but extreme care must be taken in today's economy if you are after solar panels that will have an enforceable warranty 25 years from now. Over the past two years, dozens of solar manufacturers like Solyndra, Abound Solar, Evergreen Solar, Energy Conversion Devices and Konarka Technologies have filed for bankruptcy. Others like Schott Solar have simply left the U.S. market. First Solar® and SunPower® both have cut production or suspended plans to build more factories. And according to Kyoda News, even Sharp® Solar will soon be leaving the U.S. solar market.

It has been estimated that more than 180 solar panel makers will likely disappear, going out of business by 2015. For this reason Solar Home only sells top name brand solar panels that are made by manufacturers that have demonstrated the commitment and financial strength to support their 25 year warranties.

This information is found near the bottom of http://www.solarhome.com/

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