Advantages Of Thin Solar Panel Film
Thin solar panel film represents photovoltaic layers deposited onto a substrate (glass, plastic, metal, etc.). The thickness of each layer can vary from several nanometers to several micrometers. Thin-film silicon (amorphous, protocrystalline, nanocrystalline or black silicon) is the most common photovoltaic material that is used to make a thin solar panel film.
Thin-film solar panels are relatively new, and yet they are a very promising invention (named one of the Best Inventions of 2008 in TIME magazine). These new materials are potentially going to be much faster and cost-efficient to produce than the traditional bulk silicon (crystalline silicon, wafer silicon) solar cells. High speed printing (roll-to-roll) of polymer solar materials may potentially produce the same amount of material in one hour as the amount of traditional crystalline silicon cells produced in one year.
To date, the only significant disadvantage of the thin solar panel film is its lower efficiency in comparison to crystalline silicon. However, there are solutions that will help to overcome these limitations. These solutions are aimed at improving the absorption of sunlight by the film. Once the obstacles are overcome, we will see the low-cost and high efficiency materials, which are very likely to replace the traditional solar cells that we use now.
Another advantage of thin film technology is the excellent flexibility of the materials. Since the film is flexible and durable, it can be applied onto various surfaces, which can later be used in a building’s structure, such as window glazing (electricity-generating window tinting), roofing tiles, steel, and metal (creating a "solar skin"), and other building products that can be easily integrated into architecture.
These flexible solar modules are quite powerful (can charge RV batteries, field electronics, etc.), while they are also lightweight, easy to transport, versatile, and durable. Furthermore, these panels can be easily rolled and stored/transported in convenient tubes.
Thin film is produced with special durable materials, which reduces the concerns about its breakage. Thin film solar modules have a very resilient construction, and they perform well in different weather conditions.
The potential of the thin solar panel film is excellent. The manufacturing volume of the thin film solar materials is growing steadily and fast, and it is expected to continue its rapid growth. Furthermore, thin-film cells are already being actively installed around the world, and this trend is likely to continue.
It is obvious that any flourishing industry or product involves development, changes, and improvement. Since solar power generation is a relatively new and prospering industry, it is now undergoing some major changes, which could take years to complete.
The photovoltaic market has to balance between creating efficient and yet cost effective solar cells. Even though the future is likely to see the thin solar panel film become the market's leader, the traditional crystalline silicon cells are likely to rule the market for at least a few more years, since they are still more efficient than thin film solar materials.
The good point is that even now solar cells can be used to create a
system of any size and complexity, including a system that would supply
all the electric needs of any homeowner.
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