Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jul 26

Economical Solar Panels to Yield More Energy

Posted in Energy Inventions | Photovoltaic Cells | Solar Power

Economical Solar Panels There has been research work going on to increase the efficiency of the cost-effective amorphous solar panels. TU Delft has been the center where this research work is being developed. The research will directly help in increasing the efficiency of amorphous solar cells – from a 7% to a 9%. Crystalline silicon is most commonly used in silicon solar cells which increases the production cost quite significantly. There is a more economical type of solar panels using amorphous silicon using rather thin films of silicon. The production cost is comparatively less with these panels.

Reduced yield:

The disadvantage of amorphous solar cells is that they do not have as high a yield as the cells that use crystalline silicon. Compared to the yield of about 18% from the crystalline silicon, the amorphous silicon cells have been yielding only about 7% until now.

Staebler-Wronski effect:

The reason for the comparatively low yield of amorphous silicon panels is because they are suffering from Staebler-Wronski effect which reduces the yield from 10% to 7% in the very first hours of sun exposure. Not much has been known about why this effect occurs and that too why with the amorphous silicon solar panels.

Research on amorphous silicon solar cells:

Gijs van Elzakker has been doing research on amorphous solar cells and presented his research paper for his Ph D on this subject on July 6, 2010. He focussed on how to make the amorphous cells give a higher yield. He realized overcoming the Staebler-Wronski effect will go a long way in improving the performance of amorphous solar panels.

Mitigating the Staebler-Wronski effect:

The thin silicon film layers in the amorphous solar panels are made of silane gas (SiH4). Van Elzakker found out that Staebler-Wronski effect can be alleviated by diluting the silane gas with hydrogen at an optimum ratio. In Van Elzakker’s words, “We showed that the influence of the Staebler-Wronski effect can be considerably reduced in this way.

Applying findings in production:

Inventux Technologies, a German Company, has already started utilizing Gijs van Elzakker’s findings in production. Thanks to this principle, a yield of 9% is expected from deploying the amorphous silicon solar panels the way Van Elzakker visualized.

  • Robert Easterling

    According to this article that still means that Amorphus solar is 9% lower than Crystalline Silicon in their yields. It seems to me that the true target for any manufacturing would or should be in their overall conversion percentiles.

  • Uptown Solar

    It’s funny that Amorphous technology attracts low price shoppers. In this market everyone needs to be educated to the truth of energy production versus cost. Buying cheaper panels is like saving 100 bucks on a car to get half the gas mileage. As it is, solar companies do poor jobs in marketing.

  • Jason

    ‘normal’ Crystalline solar cells range into much higher efficiencies than 18%. Not sure if these numbers are BS or just an overly specific article for laymen like myself to understand.

  • microhousehold

    It is always good to look for cheaper production methods.
    Especially when the banks refuse credit.

  • Robert Easterling

    Uptown Solar nailed it right on the head! Solar is most certainly NOT something you want to find the cheapest price on. You end up with a system incapable of generating enough energy to make a dent in your needs.

  • Dave

    As above I think uptown solar made some good points, sure everyone would like to pay less for something but it should be the lifetime cost that is considered.

  • Keith Elliott

    In some areas, the amorphous panels work better than others.

    It isn’t a matter of being cheaper, as usually prices are based on a “per watt” unit of price.

    In lower light conditions, such as the Pacific Northwest, the Uni-Solar amorphous panels work well. Attach that to edge-of-cloud-effect, which is common up this way, and these panels are just fine.

    The only disadvantage is that they require at least twice the space per watt of production. If you have the roof area, this isn’t a concern.

    Mine have been working perfectly for over a decade.

    I will say this though, I can buy crystalline panels for less than 1/4 the price I paid for the amorphous panels well over 10 years ago.

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