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Is thin film the future of solar?

Sharp Solar is betting on thin film. The company announced, they’re increasing their thin film production line from 15 megawatts to 160 megawatt capacity annually with the completion of it’s factory in Katsuragi, Japan. Sharp Solar increased the second generation thin film solar panel efficiency rate to 9% and offers a rated output of up to 128 watts per solar panel. Don’t expect to put these solar panels up on your house anytime soon, since the efficiency per solar panel is lower than traditional silicon based solar panels, thin film is better suited for projects with a vast amount of surface area. For example, if you were putting up a solar farm and space was no issue, well thin film would make sense, because you make up the lack of efficiency with space. But if you have a small roof, less surface area to work with, you want a highly efficient solar panel such as the Sanyo HIT solar panel, since it produces more watts per square foot. Until thin film technologies increase their efficiencies significantly the technology will not gain serious traction in the residential market. What do you think? Will the residential solar market see a highly efficient, dollar per watt thin film solar panel anytime...

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Three Flavors of Photovoltaic Solar Panels

As we explained in our previous post titled, Solar Arrays Explained a group of solar cells make up a solar panel. Not all solar cells are created equal, in fact there are three major flavors of solar cells that most solar panels that we see on homes and businesses are made from. Solar cells come in the following three flavors, as you can tell from the pictures each solar panel has a unique look: Single-crystal (Monocrystalline) Monocrystalline solar panels produce the most electric power per square meter and are mounted in a rigid frame. Multicrystalline (Polycrystalline) These solar panels are made up of solar cells that are cut from multiple crystals grown together in an ingot. These solar cells are built very strong structurally although are slightly less efficient then Monocrystalline solar cells. Amorphous Silicon (Thin Film) Thin Film solar panels are made through a deposition process or printing photovoltaic material on glass, metal or plastic substrate. Solar Roofing Shingles are made up of Amorphous silicon because the ability to print solar cells right onto the shingles. They are significantly less efficient than Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline solar cells therefore to generate the same power you would need more than double the surface area. Although they cost much less than traditional solar panels. Depending on the substrate the thin film solar cells are printed on they can be very robust and...

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PowerFlex Solar Strings by Global Solar Energy

Thin Film solar panels are becoming more popular as the cost continues to be driven down through using elements besides silicon to produce solar cells. The PowerFlex Solar Strings manufactured by Global Solar Energy, come pre-connected to the Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) which are flexible that make it easy and affordable for product designers who are looking to retrofit products with solar. The company is able to offer these solar cells to the market through a “roll-to-roll” manufacturing process which makes the solar cells flexible and affordable in nature. The PowerFlex Solar Strings are the only “drop-in” solar cells available and really help people who are looking specifically to create products with solar power embedded in the products. These cells can be integrated into Building Integrated Photovoltaic products such as roofing shingles, facades of buildings, windows or we could soon see our laptops and other electronics offerings these types of solar power cells implemented within the products. Global Solar Energy has a great reputation in manufacturing consumer portable solar thin film charging...

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All the buzz about thin film solar panels

It’s the word on the street, Thin Film Solar Panels, what are they? And why are so many people talking about thin film technology? Similar to how computers and cell phones became slimmer and more efficient as the technology evolved, the same thing is happening in the solar power industry. Solar Panels are becoming thinner but no necessarily more efficient, thin film solar cells are bringing the cost down for industrial electricity producers and large commercial entities although not for the residential or small business owner. Thin Film Solar Panels are typically less efficient or just as efficient as traditional silicon based solar panels, although they thin film panels are made up of other elements that can turn the sun’s rays into electricity besides silicon. As you may know one of the primary reasons solar panels have a high price tag is because there is a shortage of silicon since there is such a high demand for the substance. Although more silicon refineries are coming online, next year, this has not stopped the thin film solar manufacturers to continue to innovate in their space to use other elements which have the potential to be very efficient in the near future. Thin Film solar cells are more flexible and are not made out of glass therefore are virtually unbreakable…which make the technology very resilient. Thin film solar panels have a lot of potential in terms of bringing down the cost per watt for solar power systems, therefore much investment and talent is focusing on this sector of solar power because they see it as the future. Right now the market has limited thin film products that people are using to power small appliances or use thin film solar panels for small solar power system installations. People who have a lot of surface areas such as utility companies and big corporations can also take advantage of thin film technology. I agree with many industry people that thin film is the future of solar panels although I feel it is at least 5 years away until we see thin film solar panels that make financial sense out on the market for the general public to...

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Nanosolar to serve residential solar market in soon?

Many residential consumers were disappointed this month when they found out Nanosolar is not offering panels to residential homeowners or even businesses. Nanosolar is exclusively dealing with large utilities according to the Nanosolar offical blog. It was not until a flood of emails sent to the CEO of Nanosolar by angry consumers that the CEO address the commented and stated serving the residential market is in their “near term” roadmap. There was no expected date in which Nanosolar would offer $1/watt thin film solar panels to the residential market. I feel as the company’s manufacturing capacity goes up and the have an abundance of product they will start to offer the residential market with cheap solar panels. The first Nanosolar customer was a German utility company that used the thin film solar panels for a large solar array deployment, municipal power plant. So my expectations is Nanosolar will offer cheaper solar panels in a couple years, because it seems like up until now their supply is dedicated to large customers who want to put up municipal power...

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