PV Solar Cells or Photovoltaic Solar Cells are the building blocks of Solar Panels which are used to generate electricity from the Sun in residential or commercial establishments.Solar Cells are made of crystalline silicon the same substance that is used to make semiconductors which go into making of electronic products.Note Thin Film Solar Cells are not found for practical purposes as Thin FIlm Solar Production generally is a one step continuous process in which the whole solar panel is produced.On the other hand c-Si production is a 5 step process in which Solar Cells is the intermediate product of the 4th stage and goes as input to making of solar modules/panels.Solar Cells can be bought and made into Solar Panels as PV Solar Cells don’t have much of a standalone usage.Note Buying Solar Cells and making DIY Solar Panels does not make much sense as it adds little value and does not save money.You are better off buying Solar Panels from affordable solar panel manufacturers.
Economically also Solar Panels are starting to approach retail electricity prices in number of places in the world.Large scale solar power plants are already selling power at 10-15c/KwH which is lower than the retail electricity prices in most places.Still competition between solar panel manufacturers,improving technology and scale are making solar panel costs come down at a rapid pace.In fact Solar Panel prices have declined by more than 50% from 2008 end to 2010 and are expected to fall by an average rate of 10% in the coming years as well.However Solar Panels are seldom bought by the customers directly but are rather bought by the solar system installers/contractors.However its a good idea to know about the costs of solar panels and systems that you are paying for and not get fleeced by unscrupulous solar installers.
Solar Industry is one of the fastest growing industries on the planet and the number of companies in the industry have increased dramatically attracted by the strong growth prospects and low entry barriers.The easy availability of solar producing equipment and low capital requirements for small companies have led to a mushrooming of the number of players in the industry.Its possible to set up a small 30 MW module production factory for as low an investment as $10 million or lower.Though the value add of a pure play solar panel production factory is low and the competetive position quite questionable nonetheless there are hundreds if not thousands of such small module producers in the world right now.Other parts of the crystalline silicon supply chain have also got a number of players though the technology and captial requirements are much higher.Listing out all the solar companies in the world is a difficult task and somewhat useless as well as many of these small scale solar companies will not exist in a few years as competition keeps intensifying.Consolidation in the solar industry will ensue sometime or the other and lead to a much smaller and sustainable industry.
The Companies that make the Solar Panels with the highest efficiences are Sunpower and Panasonic/Sanyo.Sunpower has the highest efficient solar modules in the market using a properietary process and has solar cells with efficiency reaching a top limit of 24%.Sanyo also has very efficient solar panels under the HIT brand name.These solar panels also approach the 18% range (solar modules not cells).Normal crystalline plain vanilla solar panels come in the range of 13-14%.Note solar modules have lower efficiency than solar cells as some area is left for the frame etc.There are other companies that are fast catching up to Sunpower and Sanyo in the high efficiency solar panels as well.Note higher efficiency solar panels sell at higher prices per watt as the require lesser area.AUO which has a JV with Sunpower has recently claimed to have produced the higher efficiency solar panel .
Solar Panels have become a mass phenomenon as Bloomberg reported a few days ago rivaling in explosive growth the Apple iPad. Falling prices of solar panels coupled with the growing prices of fossil fuels has made solar panels increasingly more attractive to end users .Besides it also helps one contribute towards climate change mitigation. Solar […]
Solar Roofs are a niche area but is growing in popularity with the entry of more and more companies selling products tailormade for this area.What are Solar Roofs exactly – does it mean a Roof with Solar Panels installed on it or something else.Solar Roofs are not roofs where solar electricity is generated by putting in solar mounting/racking systems and mainstream solar panels,rather they are roofs where specialized solar products called solar shingles are installed.Solar Roofs can also mean a roof where Building Integrated Photovoltaic products are installed.Some companies make BIPV products like flexible solar panels or organic/dye solar cell panels ( these are niche companies).