The different kind of photovoltaic solar panels technologies

The different kind of photovoltaic solar panels technologies

Renewable Energy

Monocrystalline, polycrystalline, flexible CIGS, peak power, efficiency… Here is some knowledge you would need to know before acquiring a photovoltaic system.

LG monocrystalline module
LG monocrystalline module
Canadian Solar polycrystalline module
Canadian Solar polycrystalline module
Hanergy Flex CIGS module
Hanergy Flex CIGS module

A photovoltaic panel is a component able to transform the direct light from the sun to direct current electricity. Its characteristics and use will rely on its technology: monocrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous silicon or else CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide).

According to their technologies, light and temperature, the panels have different efficiency. The peak power (Wp) is the theorical maximum value of the power a panel can deliver. This value is measured under specific conditions: 1000 W / m² of light and temperature of 25°C.

1. CRISTALLINE SILICON TECHNOLOGIES

Silicon is one of the most abundant components on Earth and the largest photovoltaic installations use this technology. Why? Just because crystalline cells show the best efficiencies on the market and are nowadays produced at low cost.

Monocrystalline photovoltaics cell – Source: LG Mono X Plus 360 Datasheet
Monocrystalline photovoltaics cell – Source: LG Mono X Plus 360 Datasheet

A panel is made of cells connected in series and/or parallel. As cells are a fragile component, they are protected by a glass which also protects them from oxidization. Most of the time, crystalline panels are framed by a 3 to 5 cm aluminium frame.

What I the difference between mono and polycrystalline?

1.1. Monocrystalline silicon
Monocrystalline cells are a one-bloc of silicon, often black. Their efficiency reaches 20% and are the most efficient cells on the market. Their price is getting lower and lower. They are though more expensive than the polycrystalline cells.

Benefits:
Power density (170 Wp / m²)
Lifespan slightly higher than polycristalline’s

Drawbacks:
– Heavy and fragile
– Low efficiency at low luminosity

1.2. Polycristalline silicon

Polycristalline cell – source: Wikipedia.org
Polycristalline cell – source: Wikipedia.org

Polycristalline cells are built gathering melted silicon blocks. In comparison with monocrystalline technology, polycrystalline panels show a lower efficiency: 11 to 15%, or around 150 Wp / m². Though, their performances are better when the weather is hot and are less sensitive to high temperature gaps as we have in Quebec (-30°C in winter and +30°C in summer). This lower sensitivity to outside temperature provides constant performances throughout the calendar year.
On another hand, their making process is easier than monocrystalline. Thus, their price is lower.

Benefits:
– Price / efficiency ratio
– Low ecological footprint
– Better efficiency at high temperature

Drawbacks:
– Heavy and fragile

2. CIGS TECHNOLOGY

Hanergy Flex CIGS module
Hanover PowerFlex panel – Hanergy Flex CIGS module

There are more kind of photovoltaic modules on the market used for more specific, as for CIGS panels (Coper Indium Gallium Selenide). CIGS cells are an alloy of four components which are temperature resistant. They are flexible and have a way better efficiency than amorphous silicon modules. Flexible panels can be installed on any surface, even bended ones.

Benefits:
– Flexibility
– Temperature resistance
– Little impacted by shadow
– No risk of microcracks

Drawbacks:
– Costly
– Low efficiency

Volts Energies is specialized in off-grid hybrid photovoltaic systems for more than 15 years. We installed hundreds of systems. We acquired with time competences in developing renewable energies systems and hybrids installations linked to a generator. We design, size and install your system, according to your needs.
Volts Energies’ technicians and engineers are highly competent and versatile, trained for renewable energies, as for installation, diagnostic and repairs.
Volts Energies stand out from the competition by its customer services and its technicians’ availability at all time to comply with your needs. We own all the vehicles and tools need to serve you all year long.
We only provide quality products provided by brand-name manufacturers offering the best warranties. We develop partnerships with these manufacturers ensuring you the best prices.
We would be glad to discuss about your project and size systems that will make you a huge gas consumption and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

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Written by Ronan