A solar panel can convert the sunlight into usable electrical energy for daily consumption. This process works on the principle of the photovoltaic effect that allows the conversion of sunlight into solar energy.
Thin-film solar panels are the new generation of modern solar cells known as Thin-film PhotoVoltaic cells. They are very budget efficient and economical; thereby, generating less waste.
These solar cells are also quite flexible, easy to maintain, and ideal options for generating electricity for your home or office.
What are thin-film solar cells?
Thin-film solar panels are made up of thin-film solar cells. They are manufactured using several layers of light-absorbing materials, stacked on top of each other.
The materials should not be thick as they absorb light. Thin-film solar cells are easy to use and are lightweight, making them durable.
Top 3 types of thin-film solar cells
#1. Amorphous solar cells
These cells are made of silicon and are widely used for their abundance and low cost. They are very thin, and one layer is the size of one micrometre.
#2.Copper gallium indium diselenide
These cells are made of Copper, Indium, and Selenide, layered on top of each other. The thin layer of these thin-film solar panel cells provides flexibility.
#3. Cadmium telluride
These are the most popular thin-film solar panel cells used today. They are made from thin layers of cadmium telluride.
They can absorb sunlight from a close or shorter wavelength than traditional solar cells. Wavelengths that are more concise help in easily converting sunlight into electricity.
How are Thin-Film Solar Cells Made?
Aluminum foil coils are rolled through enormous presses similar to newspaper production. This makes the foil applicable to various uses.
- The manufacturing machine presses the rolls into long sheets.
- A printer puts a thin layer of semiconducting ink onto the aluminum coating in an open-air setting.
- This is a significant advancement over CIGS-on-glass or CdTe cell fabrication.
Open-air printing is less time-consuming, quicker, and significantly less costly. Another layer of CdS and ZnO is added to ensure that sunlight can permeate through the semiconductor layer.
After this, the foil is laid down and cut into sheets. In this process, very little waste is generated, making the process highly efficient and cutting down electricity costs.
How Do Thin-Film Solar Cells Work?
The thin-film solar panels last for about 10-20 years, depending on their usage. They are made using Photovoltaic Cells (PV), and each photovoltaic cell includes p-type and n-type chemicals.
P-type has fewer electrons, whereas n-type contains free electrons. When the sunlight strikes the solar panel, electrons are energised, travelling across both the p-n junction, producing a tremendous quantity of current.
This current is directly transmitted to a building to power various appliances or is stored in batteries for later use.
Silicon is commonly used as a semiconducting material in traditional solar panels. On the other hand, thin-film solar panels use materials such as Copper, Indium, Gallium Selenide, Amorphous Silicon, Cadmium Telluride, or Gallium Arsenide.
Power Generation Of A Thin-Film Solar Cell
Many solar panels use silicon; however, producing high-quality silicon crystals is difficult and expensive.
On the flip side, the new generation thin-film solar panels are often constructed of comparable but less expensive materials such as copper, indium, gallium, and selenide. Each PV cell has two electrons: a positive and a negative charge.
When the sun rays hit the cell, the rays are absorbed, freeing one electron. The freed electron flows through the electrical current, producing electricity.
The amount of current produced depends upon the sunlight that is absorbed by the solar panel. The power produced can be used to power home appliances and for commercial purposes.
Thin-Film Solar Panel Price
Thin-film solar cells are less expensive than regular crystalline silicon solar cells. They use significantly less raw material and have a lower production cost than silicon cells.
Thin-film cells collect sunlight at roughly the optimal wavelength. As a result, the electricity provided by thin-film solar cells is the most affordable and accessible today.
Thin-film solar panel price for a single sheet may range from ₹3,500, which can increase depending upon the quality of the panels.
Thin-film solar panels are cheaper than traditional solar panels. However, the cost of solar panels is a barrier for customers to use them for daily activities.
Many manufacturers have decided to reduce the prices to make these solar panels available to the public. A standard 1 kW rooftop system costs between ₹ 60,000 and 80,000.
Pros And Cons Of Thin-Film Solar Cells
- They are very flexible, making them easy to use in various applications.
- They are lighter, and mass production requires less capital.
- They are environmentally friendly because they contain less percentage of silicon. Thus, there are fewer emissions during their production.
- They work even on cloudy days. The thin-film solar cells have a variety of layers for absorbing light of varying degrees. Thus, they can produce electricity in cloudy, rainy weather by absorbing ultraviolet radiation.
- The thin-film solar cells can store energy at night to provide power to the house or where they are installed. One can also install batteries that can be useful in energy storage.
- The thin-film solar cells are less efficient, converting only 20 to 30% of the solar energy into electricity.
- More space is required for their installation.
- They also absorb more heat; thereby, making heat retention higher. Thin-film solar panels are placed directly under the sunlight. Hence, they take a long time to cool down.
Why Isn’t Solar Energy More Popular?
A solar panel requires installation space. A standard 1 kW rooftop solar system takes about 100 square feet of space.
Many consumers, however, do not want solar panels to take up the space on their rooftop, which they wish to use for other activities like gardening or drying clothes or for ideally sitting.
A solar panel is an expensive investment and requires installation and maintenance costs. It’s a long-term investment that people often find expensive to take.
Thin-film solar panels are the future of generating electricity because of their lightweight, accessible applications, and flexibility.
However, before investing in these panels, you should consider the location of their installation. These solar panels should get direct sunlight and ensure that the roof on which you wish to place the thin-film solar panel can hold its weight.
1. What makes the thin-film solar cells so high in demand?
These cells are made using affordable materials. Also, the manufacturing technique has the lowest environmental impact. It makes these solar panels quite efficient.
2. Why should you choose a thin-film solar cell?
The thin-film solar cells work even during cloudy or rainy weather or low light. It is due to the variation of materials that allow absorbing light of different frequencies.
3. How long do the thin-film solar panels last?
The thin-film panels have a shelf life of 10-20 years.