The favorable growth prospects of the market are attributed to the rising awareness of the benefits of solar power to mankind and the environment, the rapid reduction in prices of solar cells – a factor that has made consumers in developing parts of the globe more receptive about solar power generation technologies – and the rising intervention of government bodies through funds and incentives for research and product development efforts.
An Ample Array of Solar Cell Films at Market’s Disposal Already; Many New Promising Innovations Developing Fast
Though solar cells have been around for a long time, it is in the recent past that this field of power generation has received an increased focus and a tremendous rise in research and development efforts aimed at improving the overall efficiency of solar cells. Being the core component of any solar cell, it is no surprise that most of the research efforts are focused on the development of novel and more efficient photovoltaic materials. It is owing to these efforts that the solar power industry can now boast of some excellent photovoltaic materials that are in regular use.
Breakthrough developments have also been seen in the research world, and though the new materials developed are yet to prove their mettle in actual use, efforts to use them in commercial products are developing fast and shall hit the market soon. Until then, the highly-flourishing solar power industry will continue to use the materials that it has at its disposal, some of the most prominent of which are:
- Crystalline Silicon (c-Si): Crystalline silicon is currently the most commonly used photovoltaic material in solar cells, primarily because it is stable, delivers solar-power-to-electricity conversion efficiency of 15-25%, and it has proven to be highly reliable over the course of its usage in solar PV cells. However, as the material is a poor absorber of light, its film in a solar PV cell needs to be fairly rigid and thick.
- Amorphous Silicon (a-Si): Silicon in its amorphous form was used in the first thin-film solar cells that were ever made in the market. The material helps in making solar PV cells cheaper, light-weight, and flexible for a variety of applications. However, it ends up lowering efficiency levels and increases production costs.
- Copper Indium Gallium Deselenide (CIS or CIGS): CIGS is another prominent material used in thin-film solar cells. Although the material is not as efficient as silicon, the relatively cheaper core materials and ability to be applied to flexible substrates has made CIGS a hit in the thin-film solar PV market.
- Cadmium Telluride (CdTe): One of the most commonly used materials in thin-film solar cells, cadmium telluride demonstrates longer life span and higher efficiency, but has issues such as the highly toxic nature of cadmium and the limited availability of tellurium. Cadmium telluride solar cell films are currently used in solar cells encapsulated in glass, which seals the cadmium in the case of a fire.