Thin-Film PV – Leading the Way to Affordable Solar Energy
In recent years, thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technology has experienced rapid growth and achieved significant technological advances, cementing its place in the solar market. In 2012, thin-films represented approximately 20% of the global PV market (28.4 GW).1 In its 2013 Global Market Outlook, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) estimated that the world’s cumulative PV capacity reached 102 GW. With approximately 11 GW installed worldwide, thin-films account for over 10% of the global cumulated PV capacity.
Thin-film 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. Thin film PV offers many advantages over other technologies, including a low consumption of raw materials, highly automated and efficient manufacturing process, low carbon and water footprint, fast energy payback time, easy building integration and improved appearance, better performance under high temperatures, and reduced sensitivity to overheating.
Thin-film PV’s future looks bright and promising, especially in terms of efficiency potential. Recent improvements in efficiencies showcase thin-film PV’s tremendous potential and demonstrate that it is nowhere near its efficiency limit.
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.
A number of companies and researchers have worked on developing alternative applications such as flexible, transparent, or 3D thin-film solar modules.
In all their applications, thin-film PV modules boast an excellent absorption of the solar spectrum and generally deliver stronger power generation performance 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.
We invite you to learn more about thin-film PV and the PVthin association on these pages.
1 Based on IEA and GTM Research data.