Skip to main content

You can cover the world’s energy needed for one year by the sun generating power for only one minute. Just within 24 hours, the sun is capable of generating more energy than the entire population would use in 27 years.

If the chosen types of solar panels match well with the environment, solar energy is not only a truly reliable and lasting energy source but also a very cost-effective and efficient one. To generate, use, and store the sun’s energy, different types of solar panels are being developed and sunlight is converted into valuable electricity.

There are different technologies that exist on the market for solar energy such as solar thermal and solar water heating. The classical types of solar panels are mainly used for heating water.

The following paragraphs provide a detailed introduction to the different types of solar panels that are used for generating green electricity. Several decades of research, work, and development have led to the wide range of different types of solar panelsnow available on the market for solar panels.

Distinguishing between different types of solar panels often refers to selecting between single-junctions and multi-junctions solar panels. Moreover, it focuses on first, second, or third generations. Single-junction and multi-junctions vary in the number of layers on the solar panel that will see the sunlight. Furthermore, the classification by generation focuses on the materials and efficiency of the different types of solar panels.

1st Generation Solar Panels

The traditional types of solar panels made of monocrystalline silicon or polysilicon. People in conventional surroundings use this more commonly.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels (Mono-SI)

solar panel
Figure 1 Monocrystalline Solar Panels

This type of solar panels is the purest one. You can easily recognize them from the uniform dark look and the rounded edges. This type of solar panel has one of the highest efficiency rates. Moreover, the newest ones reach above 20%.

These,

  • have a high power output
  • occupy less space
  • last the longest.
  • the most expensive
  • slightly less affected by high temperatures compared to polycrystalline panels.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels (Poly-SI)

solar panel
Figure 2 Polycrystalline Solar Panels (Poly-SI)

This type of solar panels has squares.  Its uncut angels are blue and speckled looking. They are made by melting raw silicon. It is a faster and cheaper process than that used for monocrystalline panels.

These have,

  • a lower final price
  • lower efficiency (around 15%)
  • lower space efficiency
  • since they influence hot temperatures a lot, they possess a shorter lifespan.

The first option offers a slightly higher space efficiency, but at a slightly higher price. The power outputs are basically the same.

2nd Generation Solar Panels

These cells are different types of thin film solar cells. However, they mainly benefits photovoltaic power stations and used in buildings or smaller solar systems.

solar panels
Figure 3 Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)

Thin-film is the answer if the search is for a less expensive option. Moreover, thin-film solar panels are manufactured by placing one or more films of photovoltaic material like silicon, cadmium or copper onto a substrate. These types are,

  • the easiest to produce 
  • Requires a less number of materials for its production.
  • flexible
  • a good option to choose among the different types of solar panels where a lot of space is available.
  • less affected by high temperatures. But,
  • they take up a lot of space (generally making them unsuitable for residential installations).
  • Warranties are the shortest as their lifespan is shorter than the mono- and polycrystalline types of solar panels.

3rd Generation Solar Panels

These solar panels include a variety of thin film technologies. Some generate electricity using organic materials. However, others use inorganic substances (CdTe for instance).

Biohybrid Solar Cell

The Biohybrid solar cell is one of the types of solar panels, which is discovered by an expert team at Vanderbilt University. The idea behind its technology is to take advantage of the photosystem 1 and thus emulate the natural process of photosynthesis. Many of the materials they use are similar to the traditional methods. But, it combines the multiple layers of photosystem 1. Moreover, the conversion from chemical to electrical energy becomes much more effective (up to 1000 times more efficient than 1st generation types of solar panels). 

Cadmium Telluride Solar Cell (CdTe)

This photovoltaic technique uses Cadmium Telluride. The production,

  • Relatively low cost
  • Has a shorter payback time (less than a year).
  • require the least amount of water for production.
  • will keep your carbon footprint as low as possible.

The only disadvantage of using Cadmium Telluride is if ingested or inhaled, it is toxic.

Concentrated PV Cell (CVP and HCVP)

Concentrated PV cells generation of electrical energy is similar to conventional photovoltaic systems. Those multi-junction types of solar panels have an efficiency rate up to 41%. However, this is the highest so far, among all photovoltaic systems.

CVP cells are,

The negative fact with such CVP solar panels is that they can only efficient if they face the sun in a perfect angle. A solar tracker inside the solar panel is responsible for following the sun, in order to reach such high efficiency rates. 

4TH GENERATION – 4G SOLAR PANEL TECHNOLOGY

The fourth-generation solar cell technology refers to as the 4G solar cell technology. In order to boost the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar cells, this technology makes use of the combination of inorganic and organic materials.  The 4G solar cells are engineered at solar scale. Moreover, they are characterized by the flexibility of conducting polymer films (the organic materials), and the stable nanostructures (inorganic materials).

In the 4G solar cells, the commonly used substrate is transparent tin doped indium oxide. However new alternatives have made use of graphene, metal nanowires and metal grid structures. Moreover, the essence of the nanomaterial in these solar cells enables a large volume of surrounding the nanomaterial to fill up using a conductor, such as a polymer.

The main advantage of 4G solar cell is that the combination of organic and inorganic substrates improves the harvesting of solar energy.Therefore, it ensures better efficiency while maintaining meaningful cost savings.

If you would like to know more about the different types of solar panels, other green energy options and many more, visit https://engineerinc.io/

Leave a Reply