Thin film photovoltaics are solar cells manufactured by placing one or more thin layers of photovoltaic material on a substrate. The thickness of such a layer varies widely ranging from few nanometers to a few micrometers. There are two leading manufactured solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies in commercial use today; crystalline silicon PV and thin-film PV.
There are various ways to manufacture a photovoltaic cell depending on which it is classified as follows:
- Amorphous silicon and other thin film silicon
- Cadmium telluride
- Copper indium gallium selenide
- Dye- sensitized solar cell
Photovoltaic (PV) technology transforms solar energy from the sun released in the form of photons into electricity. Current PV technologies use semiconductor materials also found in computers and other electronic equipment. Semiconductors release electrons from their atomic bonds producing electrical current.
Thin film photovoltaic solar modules are the new, innovative and affordable surfacing technology. As the name suggests, the thin film PV comprise of a very thin film of semiconductor. Usually just a couple of millionths of a meter (microns) thick— the thin film PV is being used in the manufacture of such solar panels, in place of a traditional silicon wafer. The thin film PV utilizes the silicon and other raw materials quite efficiently being more effective in its functioning and also cost efficient.
The commonly used PV cells in the industry are crystalline silicon and thin films PV cells. The crystalline silicon PV cells currently dominate the market but thin film PV cells are also catching up. Crystalline silicon PV cells have around 80% of the market share so far but it is expected to fall due to the shortage of silicon and high manufacturing costs. Crystalline silicon PV cells consist of mono-crystalline silicon, poly-crystalline silicon and ribbon silicon while thin film PV cells comprise cadmium-telluride (CdTe), copper-indium diselenide (CIS), copper-indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), amorphous silicon (a-Si), and others.
Some of the major countries active in the advancements of thin film photovoltaic technologies are Germany, Japan, Europe, U.S., Asia, China, Republic of Korea and RoW. These countries hold the majority of share with Germany constituting 19%, U.S. 16%, China 12% and others 53%.
Imposition of regulations
With growing concerns related to environmental conditions and health issues, government agencies have imposed regulations on the usage, recycling and disposal of PV cells, which is forcing most countries to shift to the use of PV cells.
Key market players
Some of the major dominant players of this market are:
- First Solar
- Kaneka Corporation
- Bosh Solar
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