In the wake of the global price hike for polysilicon (raw material used to make solar panels), due to the plant explosions in China, the prices affect the overall timeline of business owners who are the middle of the solar installation process. Furthermore, this spike also comes as the NEM quota ends this December, adding onto the challenges for business owners to invest in solar. To address these challenges faced by business owners, choosing the most reliable solar modules has become even more vital and significant to the overall installation process.
With the ever-evolving technology and how liberalised the industry has become; in-depth knowledge of solar panels has helped business owners to benefit from the latest developments, ensure its optimum energy generation, gain ROI and maximise savings. Knowing what types of panels to choose will help you decide what will make a better system for your building.
Solar panels are made up out of PV cells that are connected electrically to generate energy directly from the sunlight. Made from silicon semiconductors, these cells are organised into a large frame and make up a solar panel. With all the different types of solar panels the industry has, here are the types to be aware of:
- Mono-PERC Half-Cell Panels
Mono-PERC half cells offer the advantages of higher power output, higher temperature-dependent performance, reduced shading effect on the energy generation, lower risk of a hot spot, as well as a tolerance for mechanical loading. In contrast to the full cell Mono-PERC panels, the halved cells enable the resistive losses to be lowered, producing more power. According to Solar Power World, if your building rooftop has a limited amount of space that is available, half-cut cell technology tends to be more suitable.
2. Mono PERC Modules
PERC, which stands for either “Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell” or “Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact”, is known for converting sunlight into electricity efficiently as a dielectric passivation layer is added on the rear of the cell. This cell structure enables manufacturers to achieve a higher efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity, therefore, increasing their overall capability to generate higher savings for the system owner. While mono cells have a higher efficiency which tends to come with higher costs, mono PERC commercial costs are expected to decline 16% from 2020 to 2025.
3. Monocrystalline PV Cells
Taken from a single silicon crystal, these cells are made from a highly “pure molten silicon”, with wafers of about 0.3 mm thick. Known to have an efficiency rate of 15%-22% in comparison to conventional crystalline cells, monocrystalline silicon solar panels also perform efficiently in warm weather.
4. Polycrystalline Solar Cells
Known to have lower efficiency in comparison to monocrystalline cells by 13%-15%. Polycrystalline, however, costs less and wastes less to manufacture. These solar panels need more rooftop space to perform better. As one of the earlier modules, as technology comes and goes, you will see less of these panels being made, with the rising demand of the latest technology for solar panels.
5. Thin-Film Solar Panels
Thin-film panels were the oldest model to ever hit the solar panel market. Made of thin films of semiconductors deposited on glass, plastic or metal, these cells absorb energy from the sun quickly. While these panels perform well under low light conditions, they are less efficient in transforming sunlight into energy because they are made from little to no polysilicon. However, thin-film panels have both the heat and shading tolerance in comparison to crystalline modules. The panels are continuously advancing as companies work on improving output and its efficiency.
6) Bifacial Solar Modules
The bifacial modules produce solar power from the rear and front, providing higher output power, lower temperature coefficient, less shading loss and an enhanced tolerance for mechanical loading. Some manufacturers claim up to a 30% increase in production just from the extra power generated from the rear when installed on a highly reflective surface. Known for using quality materials for high-energy yields, users have been coming around on bifacial, enabling the cost structure to reduce.
While deciding on what kind of solar panels will suit your building energy consumption best, consider factors such as the most advanced technology the market has to offer, which will produce more energy, maximise savings and reduce your carbon footprint.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect the current situation of solar upon the recent news around the China solar key manufacturing plant explosion.
- The Renewable Energy Hub UK – A Complete Guide to Solar Panels in 2020
- Solar Power World, “What are bifacial solar modules?”
- PV Magazine USA “PV Module Prices are Falling Faster Than all Predictions”
- PV Magazine
- AZO Materials
- Reuters, Factbox – Energy& Oil News- What is thin-film solar power?
- Science Direct, Salahuddin Qazi, in Standalone Photovoltaic (PV) Systems for Disaster Relief and Remote Areas, 2017
- Energy Informative: “Which Solar Panel Type is Best? Mono- vs. Polycrystalline vs. Thin Film”