Robert Porteous
Roofing, Scaffolding & Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Specialists: the North East's first MCS Accredited roofer. We also now specialise in fibre glass roofing.
t: 01665 833 270
M: 07709 165 734
e: rob@robporteous.co.uk

Types of Solar Cells

The various types of Solar cells listed below compromise the majority of Solar PV modules available in the marketplace.

Mono-crystalline silicon cells: Made using cells saw-cut from a single cylindrical crystal of silicon, for standard installations this is the most efficient of the photovoltaic (PV) materials. The principle advantage of mono-crystalline cells are their high efficiencies (typically around 15%), however as the manufacturing process is more complicated this has resulted in slightly higher production and therefore retail costs than other PV materials

Multi-crystalline silicon cells: Produced from cells cut out of an ingot of melted and re-crystallised silicon. In the manufacturing process, molten silicon is cast into ingots of poly-crystalline; these ingots are then saw-cut into very thin wafers and assembled into complete cells. Multi- crystalline cells are cheaper to produce than mono-crystalline ones, due to the simpler manufacturing process. However, they tend to be slightly less efficient, with average efficiencies of around 12%, creating a granular texture.

Thick film Silicon: Another multi-crystalline technology where the silicon is deposited in a continuous process onto a base material giving a fine grained, sparkling appearance. Like all crystalline PV, this is encapsulated in a transparent insulating polymer with a tempered glass cover and bound into a strong aluminium frame.

Amorphous Silicon: Amorphous silicon cells are composed of silicon atoms in a thin homogenous layer rather than a crystal structure. Amorphous silicon absorbs light more effectively than crystalline silicon, so the cells can be thinner. For this reason, amorphous silicon is also known as a “thin film” PV technology.
As amorphous silicon can be deposited as a thin film on both rigid and flexible materials it makes it ideal for curved surfaces and “fold-away” modules. Amorphous cells are, however, less efficient than crystalline based cells, with typical efficiencies of around 6%, but they are easier to manufacture and therefore cheaper to produce. Their low cost make them ideally suited for many applications where high efficiency is not required and low cost is important.

Other thin films: A number of other promising materials such as cadmium telluride (CdTE) and copper indium diselenide (CIS) are now being used for PV modules. The attraction of these technologies is that they can be manufactured by relatively inexpensive industrial processes, in comparison to other crystalline silicon material, yet they offer higher module efficiencies than amorphous silicon. Such is the chemical process of the semi-conducting device each of the solar PV cells require photons-found in massive quantities in both overcast and direct sunlight conditions- to generate a current flow. The manufactured modules are generally blue/ grey in colour and have been proven to have been successfully deployed in all parts of the UK, including the far most out-reach of Northern Britain.

 

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