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March 28, 2006



What's this stuff made out of, anyway? A while back SciAm Frontiers featured a process that can turn out these thin film PVs by the mile. And apparently unlike silicon-based PVs, even drilling holes in them doesn't ruin them.

How efficient are they? I doubt they're even close to silicon.


Sometimes efficiency can take a backseat to mass production and higher deployment of a product. In this case, if you can sacrifice a little efficiency you can make up for it in cheaper costs and higher coverage. By integrating this material into areas such as roof coverings costs can be further reduced as it will offer itself to an established trade and forgo the double roofing phenomena of having to install standard roofing with a solar aray over the top of it.

Robert McLeod

Thin films can be a variety of materials. They are still essentially giant homojunction or hetreojunction transistors, just much thinner. Since semiconductors cost so much to zone refine this reduces the materials cost by a large margin.

They could even technically be made out of silicon. However, silicon is what's known as an indirect band-gap material. Short story is that the absorption of light per unit thickness of silicon is much less than Gallium Arsenide or similar direct band-gap materials.

The efficiency of thin films and organic PVs varies wildly. Laboratory thin-films can certainly exceed the efficiency of commercial Si cells (~ 12 %). As brother_bones points out what matters is $/Watt, not efficiency per say.


You have to keep in mind land use when considering $/Watt and efficiency. Land is not free, roof space is not unlimited.

Jim from The Energy Blog

The highest efficiency thin film cells are Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenium (CIGS)cells. 19.6% efficiency has been achieved in a government laboratory. Daystar has achieved 16% in the lab for its version, but cannot achieve that in production. Commercial cells are in the 12-15% range which is fairly competitive with silicon. Daystar, Miasole, Nanosolar are some of the producers. RoseStreet and others are working, in the lab, on thin films with theoretically much higher, ~ 48%, efficiencies using multijunction cells to absorb the full spectrum of light, as high as the best silicon cells.

eric blair

Don't forget lifetime.

A $1/Watt cell that lasts 5 years is no go when present panels with 20+ year lifespans are $4/Watt



Near 40% efficient solar even without using infrared PV cells (another 20%?)and collecting waste heat for use in heating/cooling.


This is the way to make kwh costs for solar compete with ANY source, even the low cost leader, wind power.



The US Census Bureau estimated 120 million housing units within the US in 2003. That's a lot of roofs. Even if they aren't all in areas suitable for net zero energy buildings they can still add to the grid. I read an article about a man in the 90's that slapped a home grown solar system on his apartment that provided 50% of his power needs, in Seattle. Modern technology would obviously increase the gains over his hippie system.

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Nice post! Thanks for given this information.

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this is a huge number

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Excellent post i really like it!According to a newly released report from NanoMarkets, an industry analyst firm, the market for thin film and organic photovoltaics (PV) will be worth over US$2.3 billion in the year 2011 and $3.3 billion in 2013.







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Organic is being thoughtful to others. Green energy is the future of the world.


t post i really like it!According to a newly released report from NanoMarkets, an industry analyst firm, the market for thin film and organic photovoltaic


The report examines key product sectors that will create revenue

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According to a newly released report from NanoMarkets, an industry analyst firm

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Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films. In general, these works can be divided into two categories, academic criticism by film scholars and journalistic film criticism that appears regularly in newspapers and other media. Thanks a lot.

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