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Archive for the ‘Thin film’ Category


Thin film solar modules

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009


I enjoy your articles whenever they appear in BHM.

I have been hearing about “thin-film” voltaic cells in the press for the last few years and I think your readers would enjoy an article discussing the present state of this inovation and how long it will be before they reach the mainstream market.

Are they really going to be as cheap in comparison to the current product as the press would have us believe?


Jerry T.


Actually I have discussed thin film solar module technology in past articles. Thin film solar modules are called amorphous cells and are one of several research attempts to lower the cost of solar modules. Unlike standard modules which are assembled from individual solar cells and then wired into a module and vacuum sealed behind tempered glass, the amorphous solar module is made by a plating process which deposits a thin film of photovoltaic material on the back of the glass or on the surface of a metal plate. A laser is then used to divide the single large cell into separate cells to increase the voltage, and this process is much faster and cheaper.

Unfortunately, although an amorphous solar module is less than half the cost of a conventional solar module, so far they are less than half the efficiency so you need to buy twice as many and use twice the roof area for the same amount of collected energy. They are also developing solar paints or inks that can be applied like spray painting a car, but these also are much lower efficiency and have a shorter life. There will, of course will, be some applications where system life and efficiency are not as important, as long as they are cheap.

There are many things in the news these days about improving solar technology and lowering costs, but so far, almost all of these articles are talking about things that are years away from being turned into real products you can buy.

Hope this helps,

Jeff Yago



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