Silicon for Solar Cells that are used to make the normal crystalline solar panels is known as Polysilicon.This is a highly purified form of the Silicon Metal that is mined.Note Polysilicon is made through chemical processes which help in purifying the raw silicon and removing the impurities.The Silicon that is used to make Silicon Cells is also used to make semiconductor wafers which is the raw material for the Electronic Industry.Solar Cells require slightly lower purity of 6N compared to the higher 9N required by the Semiconductor Industry.Once Polysilicon is produced it has to be made into flat wafers which require further industrial processes like pouring the metal in crucible to make ingots and then cutting the ingots by wiresaws to make solar wafers.The solar wafers are then converted into solar cells by processes like diffusion,etching etc.

A lot of confusion exists about solar cells efficiency about which technology results in how much efficiency and the difference between solar cells and the solar panels efficiency.Note the biggest differentiator of a solar cell besides its cost is its efficiency.Not only do different materials give different efficiencies,even different companies have conversion efficiencies which differ for the same technology.Silicon Solar Cell Efficiency also depends on the purity of the solar wafer which is used as raw material to print solar cells besides whether it is monocrystalline or multicrystalline solar cells.With most of the low lying fruit already gathered in respect to lowering cost of the silicon solar cells,most of the big Chinese solar companies are concentrating their efforts in improving the efficiency in order to cut down costs in the cutthroat solar industry where the stars of yesterday are fighting to stay alive (Energy Conversion Devices,Evergreen Solar).This rising tide of the solar industry in 2010 has not been able to revive the fortune of some companies though European companies have made enough to fight another day.Solar Cells Efficiencies also differ in the champion cells tested in labs like NREL and on commercial lines.But here is a general range of efficiency of different types of solar cells made from different technologies

Solar Cell Efficiency Improvement is the best way to reduce the costs of solar power and reach grid parity in most places in the world.Solar Cell Efficiencies have improved continuously and with a number of companies and startups investing billions of dollars in research,it will keep improving.However cost considerations are an important factor as well and the technology which balances the two will win the solar energy race

America currently has a massive number number of startups in the clean energy industry and a lot of them in the fastest growing green industry that is the solar sector.However like startups in all industries a lot of them will fail,some will sell themselves to others like Heliovolt,Ausra while a few will make it really big making a fortune through IPOs for their PE investors and owners.One or two will make fortunes for those who invest early as well like First Solar.Note First Solar despite numerous ups and downs is still up more than 450% from its IPO price five years ago.It won’t be the last either.So despite the strong competition in the solar industry where numerous companies and technologies are jostling in the more than $70 billion global market,one or two of the smart ones will become huge winners like Intel or Microsoft.So which are the solar startups which are showing the most promise.Four of them are currently leading the pack while a few others have got a reasonable chance of success as well though they need to prove more like Stion and Miasole.Some of the more hyped ones like Solyndra have gone on a slimming down mode and might make a comeback though it will be tough.There are some others in stealth mode which may become big also.But here is the list of the Four Best Solar Startups in the Solar Electronics,Solar Panels and Solar Thermal Sectors.

Suniva is the only crystalline solar Solar Companies in the US which has been able to survive and thrive in recent times.Sunpower too has resurrected itself through strategic JVs and acquisitions.The main reason for the decline of the US solar companies has been the severe competition from the low cost Chinese Solar Industry.This has made companies like Energy Conversion Devices and Evergreen Solar shut down US factories and look towards Mexico and China to build low cost factories.However Suniva has managed to face all these competitive threats quite successfully and is looking to expand capacity in the US by building a 400 MW factory.The company even refused a DOE Loan Guarantee saying that the terms were too onerous.The company has manged to raise more then $130 million in equity and has won contracts to supply high efficiency solar cells to the Asian companies which is a first.Suniva differentiates itself through its technology which allows the production of high efficiency monocrystalline solar cells at lower cost.Note Sunpower makes the highest efficiency cells in the world in the range of 22-24% but its cost structure is too high.Suniva is looking to challenge the Taiwanese Cell Producers by marrying higher efficiency with lower cost.

First Solar Thin Film Leader and the largest solar company by value has decided to shift focus towards the commercial segment between 10-30 KW in size..The company was promoted by Wal-Mart promoters and has seen remarkable growth in the last few.This US based company uses Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) Technology and is the lowest cost panel producer in the world today if you don’t include any penalty for low efficiency.Note First Solar derives most of its revenues from large utility solar power plants where the lower costs of its Cadmium Tellerium Solar Panels compensates for the Lower Efficiency of its Solar Panels.It does not get too many sales to the commercial and residential market where its lower efficiency panels lose out as they require much larger space to generate the same amount of power. First Solar Panels don’t sell well in applications where space is a constraint.Note Sunpower which is the highest efficiency commercial c-Si solar module producer wins out in applications with space constraint.

Solar Power in India is increasing at a rapid pace and will become one of the biggest energy industries in the next decade as falling costs of solar energy and India’s rising demand makes it a perfect match.Solar Companies in India are constanly growing by the day as firms rush in to take advantage of the vast investment and profit potential in India’s Solar Energy Market.BHEL which is India’s largest Capitals Good Company has big solar ambitions.BHEL has strong capabilities in the field of making electricity generating equipment.Extending these capabilities in the field of solar power generation is a natural extension.It is following the JV route with various other Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) like HPCL,BEL and IOC to build power plants and solar equipment factories in the country.Most of these JVs have been dormant till now but the JV with BEL is now looking to move on.The JV is scouting for sites to build a 250 MW integrated c-Si Solar Factory which will also have India’s first polysilicon and wafer manufacturing operations.Note India has a large capacity of solar cells and modules but does not have a commercial solar wafer or poly plant which are essential raw materials for making Solar Panels.Till now Solar Panels in India are made from imported Solar Wafers from companies like LDK,GCL,REC,Solarworld and others.There are a few private companies who are looking to set up upstream manufacturing in solar as well.Note there are other Indian government owned PSUs which too are looking to enter Solar Energy Industry as well