Thin-Film PV – Leading the Way to Affordable Solar Energy
One of the most exciting developments in solar energy in recent years is the success of innovative, “thin-film” solar panels. As the name suggests, these photovoltaic (PV) solar modules employ a very thin layer of semiconductor—usually just a couple of millionths of a meter (microns) thick—in place of a traditional silicon wafer. Simpler to manufacture, thin-film PV makes more efficient use of raw materials and energy and results in both lower costs and smaller carbon footprints, leading the way to affordable solar electricity.
A typical thin-film solar panel consists of the semiconductor and several other thin films bonded to a sheet of glass, covered by another sheet of glass and sealed in with an industrial laminate. Some companies and researchers are focused on the development of alternative formats, including flexible thin-film solar modules.
However they are used, thin-film PV modules boast an excellent absorption of the solar spectrum and generally deliver stronger power generation performance in a variety of environments, including high-temperature environments, than traditional silicon solar panels. Like all commercial solar modules sold today, thin-film PV producers generally guarantee the performance of their products for 25 years.
Thin-film PV also lends itself to relatively simple mechanical and chemical recycling, ensuring the recovery of valuable raw materials when the need to replace the modules arises—often at no additional cost. This “life cycle” approach to environmental management is considered the gold standard in the PV industry.
We invite you to discover more about thin-film PV and the PVthin association on these pages.