The ultimate PV system

18.4.1 The solar cell

No one knows what the ‘ultimate’ solar cell of the future will look like. The workhorse of today, the reliable crystalline silicon solar cell, is still doing surprisingly well, with a continuously improving performance/price ratio. This is due to a better understanding of mechanisms such as light confinement, passivation and optimal metallisation, and also to better production technologies and the progressive scale-up of production facilities. The present world-wide investments in new manufacturing capacity indicate that crystalline silicon cells will dominate the PV scene for some time to come.

The earlier chapters in this book describe the present status of research and indicate the future prospects of the different PV materials and technologies...

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Polysilicon manufacturers

Worldwide, more than 100 companies produce or have started up polysilicon pro­duction. This section gives a short description of the ten largest companies in terms of production in 2012. More information about additional polysilicon companies and details can be found in various market reports.

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Polysilicon supply

The rapid growth of the PV industry since 2000 led to the situation where, between 2004 and early 2008, the demand for polysilicon outstripped supply from the semi­conductor industry. Prices for purified silicon started to rise sharply in 2007, and prices for polysilicon peaked at around 500 $/kg in 2008, resulting in higher prices for PV modules. This extreme price hike triggered a massive capacity expansion, not only by established companies, but attracting many new entrants as well.

These massive production expansions, as well as the difficult global economic situation, led to price decreases for polysilicon throughout 2009. Prices reduced to about 50-55 $/kg at the end of 2009, with a slight upwards tendency throughout 2010 and early 2011, before they dropped significantly again...

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Rural areas

Deployment of renewable energy sources can be a key feature of regional development and assists in achieving greater social and economic cohesion within a country. Grid extension, noise and pollution are avoided in PV projects. In both centralised and decentralised systems, adverse visual impact is also avoidable with sensitive design. Wood-clad structures for ground-mounted systems and appropriate building installations enable this silicon technology to be integrated into the countryside. Visual impact can be very low, because the geometry and modularity of PV is not far from the discrete lines of typical agriculture land. Renewable energy sources contribute not only to the quality of life of the users, but also to the development of a more self-sufficient community...

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Jiangxi Risun Solar Energy Company Ltd. (China)

Risun Solar Technologies was established in 2008. The company manufactures mono – and multicrystalline solar cells and modules, with a stated production capacity of 700 MW for solar cells and 300MW for modules. An expansion to 3 GW was planned without a specified date. Production of 500 MW was reported for 2012 (ENF, 2013).

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Building-integrated solar energy is the most promising market in OECD countries, growing globally at a rate of 16.8% per year, and in Europe even faster, at 33 % per year. The avoidance of land occupation, integration of PV in the economy of the building, and the development of advanced construction building components, are

One of the most important intersection stations in Berlin is in the design phase for the historic site of Lehrter Bahnhof, which connects east and west Berlin. Construction will commence in 2001. An anticipated annual passenger traffic of about 30 million will be witness of the integration of solar cells into the curved glass roof...

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PV can play an impressive local role

The important local role of PV is manifest both in developing and developed countries. For example, the success story of Solar Home Systems for rural areas in developing countries is based on the fact that a small PV system can provide two essential energy services, namely light at night and power for TV and radio, at a monthly cost comparable to the alternative option, which is kerosene lighting and frequent battery charging in nearby villages (World Bank, 1996). Having very efficient end-use equipment is the key to providing these services, to maximise the use of the precious 0.15 to 0.25 kWh a standard 50WP panel produces per day...

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PV and world energy supply

In Chapter 17, Dennis Anderson outlined the huge long-term potential of PV for world energy supply: theoretically we can generate an amount of energy equal to the world’s energy demand on less than 1% of the world’s land area. Realising this potential will be a long and extremely complex endeavour, and of course PV does not have to power the world alone.1 There are a range of other renewable energy sources, such as wind power and bio-energy, whose costs also continue to fall with expanding markets and continuing R&D, and it also seems that reserves of fossil fuels are larger than previously thought...

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