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thin film solar, the Xunlight way

Anja Atkinson, a GoGreenSolar.com community member, recently started a discussion about thin film solar panels so I figured it’s perfect timing to write about a company called Xunlight and their thin film solar products. Last week Xunlight announced a successful demo of their wide roll to roll manufacturing process. What the heck does that mean? Well typically traditional crystalline silicon solar panel require an intense manufacturing process which adds to cost of solar panels. Thin film’s lower cost compared to crystalline solar cells is achieved by a simpler roll to roll manufacturing process which allows Xunlight to produce thin film solar cells on rolls of thin stainless steel substrates, three feet wide and up to one mile long. Xunlight’s unique manufacturing process only uses a small amount of silicon which also helps reduce the cost of solar panels. What do you think about thin film solar and Xunlight’s roll to roll manufacturing...

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supersized thin film solar panels

ENN solar, a Chinese thin film solar panel manufacturer has released their supersized solar panel EST series which has a STC (standard test condition) output up to 458 watts! That’s the largest power output from a single solar panel that I’ve ever seen. I wonder what the efficiency of the EST series are? According to the company large solar panels reduce installation costs, would you agree? Since the ENN solar panels are thin film they perform well in low, diffused light and high temperatures compared to standard crystalline solar panels. Thin film solar panels are also flexible so they can be applied in places traditional crystalline solar panels cannot be mounted onto. To understand the size of the EST series, they are 5.7 square meters which is more than four times larger than traditional solar panels. The company says that the larger solar panel footprint and high efficiencies will able them to deliver a lower cost per watt. What do you...

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breaking world records for thin film solar cells

Ascent Solar, a company which focuses on developing cutting edge thin film technology recently announced they have successfully developed a thin film solar cell made of CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenide) that reached efficiencies of greater then 9.5%. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) independently verified that the solar panels made by Ascent Solar measured as high as 9.64% conversion efficiency. CIGS solar cells are made of a plastic substrate compared to silicon which is the material traditional solar cells are composed of. CIGS solar panels are flexible and can be delivered at a lower cost compared to silicon base solar cells. With efficiencies of thin film solar cells now reaching close to 10%, thin film is becoming a more viable solution for residential installations. Moving forward I think thin film solar cells are going to get much better replacing silicon based solar cells all together, wouldn’t you think so? The advantages of thin film solar cells is that they can be integrated into items such as roofing shingles, sides of buildings..etc…what would be other places we could integrate thin film solar cells into? Ascent Solar has not commercialized this technology yet, although according to the company they are working towards more highly efficient and even lower cost solar panels that will be commercialized sooner than later. Do you think the company will be able to...

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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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