Thin-Film Solar Cells: What are Your Options?

Closeup of Solar Panel

Some people get confused when planning to get solar panels, wondering which type to go for. You have to account for many variables when buying a thin-film solar cell, for example. And it’s often a question of efficiency versus the size of the space.

Thin film solar cells are manufactured by layering two or more photovoltaic material on a substrate. The type of material used to layer then determines the type of cell you’ll have. As a bonus, thin film solar cells are very appealing. PowerCo Solar lists three of the best classes there are on the market today:

Amorphous Silicon Cells

These cells find the best use in offices where the electrical power output is low. They also tend to be used on the down low as temporary fixes. Amorphous silicon cells are manufactured through stacking, a technique that layers the cells to increase efficiency rates.

Cadmium Telluride Cells

Cadmium telluride has managed to gain a win on silicon solar panels regarding cost efficiency and has snagged for itself a significant part of the market. Cadmium cells have an efficiency of between nine and 11%. Cadmium cells also have the lowest water use, a minimal carbon footprint and short energy payback times.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide cells

Compared to the first two, this technology bears the most efficiency potential. It contains minimal amounts of toxic material and enjoys an efficiency rate of up to 12%. Copper Indium cells have a protective layer that prevents surface recombination, and so the panels can be made with grains less than one micrometer.

Thin film solar cells are flexible, and so they can be applied to offices of any size and design. Their design is such that shade and high temperatures will not affect their performance much. However, they need a lot of space, so one has to do a fit out before committing to an installation.