Crystalline silicon is the leading semiconducting material extensively used in photovoltaic technology for manufacturing solar cells.
The silicon crystalline photovoltaic cells are typically used in commercial-scale solar panels. In 2011, they represented above 85% of the total sales of the global PV cell market.
The Crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules are made by using the silicon crystalline (c-Si) solar cells, which are developed in the microelectronics technology industry.
The PV solar panels are composed of these solar cells as part of a photovoltaic system to produce solar energy from sunlight. The silicon crystalline technologies are dominantly used in stand-alone and on-grid system installations.
Would you like to gain more information regarding silicon crystalline? If yes, then let us begin to explore this material in detail.
What is Silicon & Silicon Crystalline?
Silicon is one of the finest semiconductors that are utilised for manufacturing solar cells. It is used popularly due to its optimum electrical, mechanical, thermal, optical, and environmental properties. It is also easily available on our planet.
The traditional solar cells are manufactured with silicon, and they are the most efficient solar cells available at the present time.
Silicon Crystalline, on the other hand, is basically the crystalline form of silicon. It can be monocrystalline silicon (mono-Si) that comprises a single continuous crystal or multi-crystalline silicon (multi-Si) that comprises small crystals.
Multi-crystalline silicon solar modules are better known as Polycrystalline solar modules.
Crystalline silicon cells are fabricated with silicon atoms that are connected and create a crystal lattice.
Such lattice offers a well-organized structure that facilitates the efficient conversion of sunlight into electricity.
Notably, Silicon crystalline has a uniform and foreseen behaviour. Yes, this is why it is widely preferred. However, it is the most expensive category of silicon due to its careful and tedious manufacturing processes.
Types of Silicon Crystalline and Their Efficiency
Crystalline silicon has an ordered crystal structure, and each atom has a pre-arranged position. The silicon solar cells are built from silicon wafers, which can be mono-crystalline or multi-crystalline silicon.
So, there are two main types of crystalline silicon used in photovoltaic solar cells –
- – Mono-crystalline silicon is manufactured by slicing wafers from a high-purity single mass of crystal. These wafers usually have better material specifications. However, they are costly!
- – Multi-crystalline silicon aka Polycrystalline silicon is manufactured by first sawing a silicon cast block into bars and cutting it into wafers. The production methodology used for Polycrystalline silicon is simpler. Therefore, it is less expensive compared to those used for single crystal material. However, there remains the fact that the quality of single crystalline material is superior to multi-crystalline material.
Coming to the efficiency of crystalline silicon PV cells, it varies with different types. Mono-crystalline silicon PV cells have an energy conversion efficiency of more than 25%, and that of polycrystalline cells is around 20%.
Advantages of Silicon Crystalline Solar Cells
Some major advantages of crystalline silicon solar cells are:
- – Robust & Reliable: Deployment projects need to be reliable and productive. It aids in obtaining capital for such projects. Notably, a significant amount of information is available on the reliability and robustness of the silicon crystalline PV modules.
- – The efficiency of Output: The commercially manufactured crystalline silicon cell offers higher efficiency as compared to other industry-level single-junction devices. Higher efficiency cuts down the cost of final installation as less quantity of cells is required to be installed for an estimated output.
- – Sturdy & Long-Standing Material: Silicon crystalline cells facilitate longer life of the modules, around 25+ years. Also, they are sturdy & withstand degradation over a long period.
- – Abundant Availability: Concerning abundance, silicon is the predecessor of the most abundant element on this planet – Oxygen. This means that silicon is the second most abundant element.
But, are there any limitations of crystalline silicon panels? Let us check!
Limitations of Crystalline silicon
- – It demands expensive manufacturing technologies.
- – Growing and sawing crystalline masses is an extensively energy-consuming process.
Cost of Silicon Crystalline
Solar energy is a free and renewable source of energy. But, harnessing solar energy via making use of conventional crystalline silicon cells is a bit costly.
Silicon crystalline is an expensive material in the solar energy industry because of its various prolonged manufacturing processes.
It is manufactured by the diminution of high-grade quartz sand in an electric furnace.
In the international market, crystalline silicon for PV applications can cost you around USD 50. However, there’s no single figure. The cost fluctuation is heavy.
However, with technological advancements, low-cost silicon materials are now available. Also, subsidies are offered by the government on Polycrystalline solar modules as a contribution to reducing the total cost.
Since the early 1950s, Silicon crystalline solar cells have overpowered the global photovoltaic market. Silicon is an abundant and non-toxic element available in the earth’s crust.
Over the years in practice, crystalline silicon PV modules have exhibited their long-standing performance. Moreover, silicon solar cells are also expected to have a great role in the future market of solar photovoltaics.
Q. How productive are crystalline silicon solar panels?
Solar cells fabricated with silicon crystalline offer a complete package of high productivity, longer life span, and low cost.
The estimated life of these modules is around 25 years or above, producing more than 80% of their original power during their working life.
Even after 25 years, these modules keep working at about 70% efficiency. The degradation rate is just 0.7%.
When you compare it with the ever-mounting electricity tariffs, you’ll have a clear idea about the type of savings a solar system offers.
Q. What is the basic dissimilarity between silicon crystalline and amorphous solar panels?
Mono-crystalline solar panels are fabricated with single-crystal silicon in which the silicon atoms are well-arranged in a repetitive sequence.
On the other hand, the amorphous solar panels are fabricated with a non-crystalline form of the element, i.e., the thin-film silicon.
Q. Why is silicon crystalline utilised for making solar panels?
Crystalline silicon is a popular semiconductor that is used for making solar cells due to its reliability, performance, and abundance.
It has various significant properties that make it highly suitable for solar PV panels.
Q. What are the different categories of silicon panels available in the market?
There are different solar panels, varying in the categories of silicon solar cells available in the market.
The silicon solar panels can be classified as mono-crystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous (thin film) panels.