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Low-cost industrial technologies of crystalline silicon solar cells

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5 Author(s)

Approximately 2 billion people, mainly in Third World countries, are not connected to an electric grid. The standard, centralized grid development is too expensive and time consuming to solve the energy demand problem. Therefore, there is a need for decentralized renewable energy sources. The main attractiveness of solar cells is that they generate electricity directly from sunlight and can be mounted in modular, stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) systems. Particular attention is paid in this paper to crystalline silicon solar cells, since bulk silicon solar-cell (mono and multi) modules comprise approximately 85% of all worldwide PV module shipments. Energy conversion efficiency as high as 24% has been achieved on laboratory, small-area monocrystalline silicon cells, whereas the typical efficiency of industrial crystalline silicon solar cells is in the range of 13-16%. The market price of PV modules remains for the last few years in the range of $3.5-4.5/watt peak (Wp). For the photovoltaic industry, the biggest concern is to improve the efficiency and decrease the price of the commercial PV modules. Efficiency-enhancement techniques of commercial cells are described in detail. Adaptation of many high-efficiency features to industrially fabricated solar cells. The latest study shows that increasing the PV market size toward 500 MWp/y and accounting for realistic industrial improvements can lead to a drastic PV module price reduction down to $1/Wp

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:85 ,  Issue: 5 )

Date of Publication:

May 1997

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