Solar energy is abundant and can be captured through photovoltaic panels and heating engines. It has been harnessed for domestic use through applications for heating and cooling home spaces, cooking, lighting homes, water heating, water purification through distillation and disinfection processes, thermal wear, solar-powered vehicles, solar calculators.
With extensive usage of this energy, arose a need to bring more innovation in energy harnessing techniques. Initially when introduced, the solar panels were very heavy and costly. Over time, the technology changed with manufacturers looking for lighter and cheaper options to help cater to customers.
The total amount of energy reaching the Earth's surface adds up to approximately 3,850,000 EJ (exajoules) per year. Solar technology is broadly classified into active and passive solar technologies based on methods applied for capturing, converting and distributing this energy.
In recent years, we have seen an introduction of 'state-of-the-art' thin film solar panels or TFSPs which consists of a variety of cells made out of Cadmium Telluride (Cd Te), Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS), Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) and Micro Crystalline Silicon.
The cells are manufactured by creating one or more thin layers of PV on a surface. The thickness of these cells can be calculated in nanometers or a few micrometers. The usage of this new technology is hiking with the utility rate expected to hit approximately 30% of the total globally installed power by the year 2013.
If embedded as a roof of building structure, they are even extremely safe to walk on. The cost of these panels is expected to fall to approximately $50 per m2 in the near future. However, you can easily make these panels at home on your own and save on the expenditure.
Efficiency of TFSPs
Primitively, TFSPs were used in very small proportions in hand calculator devices. This technology is now used on a bigger scale in vehicle and construction industries. Designed to overcome the limitations of a modest photovoltaic panel (PV), the features of a TFSP include higher efficiency in energy conversion and cheaper production expenditure.
The total number of charge carriers per incident photon are lesser in a TFSP, which makes the quantum efficiency of TFSP lesser than PV, but this is offset by the significantly lower cost of production of these panels.
There is extensive usage of light trapping technology to increase the radiation absorption in TFSP films. Also, the thermal techniques help to increase the clarity of the silicon chips and control the electronic defects.
Advantages of Use
Installing TFSPs at home can bring you many advantages, with the most obvious being, of course, a reduction in your electric bill. Here are some more advantages of installing these solar panels at home.
- They are extremely light in weight with better efficiency than older solar technologies.
- The initial installation cost might be on the higher side but the maintenance cost is extremely low.