What is the Multi Junction Solar Cell Price? Solar panel efficiency is improving constantly, and innovations in solar cell construction, materials, and design are at the forefront of these improvements. Multi-junction solar cells are an exciting technology that may provide increased efficiencies in the solar panels of the future.
What are multi-junction solar cells?
Multi-junction solar cells are capable of absorbing different wavelengths of incoming sunlight by using different layers, making them more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than single-junction cells. While they have the potential to be many times more efficient than traditional solar cells, high production costs and continuing research and development means that multi-junction cells are not currently commercially available or feasible.
Multi-junction solar cells are a type of tandem solar cell, meaning they are made of stacked materials that are optimized to absorb different frequencies of sunlight.
Multi-junction solar cell basics: how do multi-junction solar cells work?
Solar cells are made of a semiconductor material, typically silicon in crystalline solar cells. Traditionally, a solar cell has two layers: an n-type with a high concentration of electrons, and a p-type with a relatively low concentration of electrons. When sunlight hits the n-type layer, electrons flow from that section to the second and create an electrical current that can be captured and used for power. This type of solar cell is known as a single-junction solar cell, as it has one single boundary/junction between the n-type and p-type layers, known as a p-n junction. These p-n junctions are where electrical currents flow in solar cells.
A multi-junction solar cell is a tandem solar cell with more than one p-n junction. In practice, this means that there are multiple layers of different semiconductor materials, each of which produces electric currents in response to different wavelengths of light. This means that, theoretically, multi-junction solar cells are capable of converting more sunlight that hits them to electricity when compared to single-junction cells.
Just like normal silicon solar cells, multi-junction solar cells produce electricity through the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect is a complicated chemical and mechanical process, but can be summarized in three main steps:
- Light is absorbed by solar cells and electrons in the semiconducting material are knocked loose
- Loose electrons flow through the p-n junction between semiconductor layers, creating an electrical current
- The current is captured and transferred to wires
Single-junction solar cells have one p-n junction to direct the flow of electricity created when sunlight hits a semiconducting material. In a multi-junction solar cell, there are multiple p-n junctions that can induce a flow of electricity.
Multi-junction solar cell structure
Multi-junction solar cells are not made using silicon as a semiconductor. Instead, materials like gallium indium phosphide (GaInP), indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs), and germanium (Ge) are used to create separate layers of semiconductors that all respond to different wavelengths of incoming sunlight.
Comparing multi-junction and single-junction solar cells
How do multi-junction cells and single-junction cells compare? We’ll take a look at three main factors: efficiency, materials, and pricing.
A solar cell’s efficiency is a measure of what percentage of incoming light that hits the cell can be converted to electricity. In terms of theoretical efficiency, multi-junction solar cells have the potential to significantly outperform traditional single-junction solar cells. According to the Department of Energy, multi-junction solar cells with three junctions have theoretical efficiencies over 45 percent, while single-junction cells top out at about 33.5 percent. Adding more junctions (potentially up to 5 or 6 junctions) could boost efficiency over 70 percent. For reference, the most efficient solar panels available today have efficiencies around 22 percent.
Single-junction solar cells are typically made using silicon as a semiconductor, while multi-junction solar cells commonly use three separate semiconductors: gallium indium phosphide (GaInP), indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs), and germanium (Ge).
Multi Junction Solar Cell Price
There aren’t commercially-available multi-junction solar cells yet, which means that pricing is mostly speculation. One thing is for sure: multi-junction solar cell production is a more complicated and difficult process using more expensive materials, so they’ll likely cost more than single-junction cells when they hit the mass market. The cost of solar panels has steadily fallen over the past several years, however, and as manufacturing processes are perfected, the cost of solar panels made from tandem solar cells will likely follow the same pattern over time.
Can you install solar panels with multi-junction cells?
Multi-junction solar cells are an exciting and promising technology that may help increase the efficiency of solar panels. For now, they are still being tested and researched, and therefore are not available to purchase for solar panel installation.
If you’re interested in solar energy for your property, many top solar panel manufacturers offer high-efficiency products that effectively convert sunlight to electricity so you can benefit from clean and free solar power. Check out your options for a solar installation today by visiting the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, where you can compare qualified, local installers side by side and determine the best solar option for you.
TIPS FOR BUYING YOUR SOLAR POWER SYSTEM.
Buying a home solar power system can be a very exciting experience, but don’t get too carried away by advertising. Be sure to focus on the important aspects of your purchase as it’s a substantial investment and one you’ll be living with for a long time. The following are some buying solar tips on what to look for when purchasing a system.
Ask friends, family neighbours or colleagues who have had solar PV systems installed. Often the best buying solar tips com from right in your neighbourhood. They’ll be able to tell you about their experiences and perhaps alert you to any problems they experienced. Problems that you’ll be able to avoid. Learn more about potential issues in our consumers guide to solar power – avoiding tricks and traps.
Length of manufacturer’s warranty
Take note of what guarantees the manufacturer offers. If the manufacturer is reputable and the warranty period on the panels is substantial (at least 25 years) you would naturally expect your solar system to last long for a long time, long enough to pay for itself and make you a profit. However, for a warranty to be honoured, the manufacturer needs to be still operating. So, be cautious of brands without a track record in Australia.
Have realistic price expectations
If you are paying substantially less than many other similar size systems quoted, you may find poor quality equipment and/or poor installation work. Quality equipment and installation isn’t cheap and, like all other purchases, you often get what you pay for.
Compare components and warranty periods and check into the company providing the installation. While large, well established companies can pass on substantial savings due to increased buying power, other companies often reduce costs by cutting important corners.
Solar panel certifications
This applies to all solar panel purchases, but especially to the purchases that could attract a government rebate. The certification on solar panels indicates the type of testing that they have undergone. For instance, TUV IEC 61215 confirms that the solar panels have gone through testing by an independent laboratory and have met their advertised specifications. Other certification types are often self-assessed. Therefore, they rely on the company being honest in what it claims.
Decide on the type of panels
It used to be the case that if you had limited roof space you would need highly efficient (and very expensive) mono-crystalline solar panels. This is rapidly changing with advances in polycrystalline panel technology and some thin film technologies. Still, even if you have ample roof space you may still want to consider panel sizes vs. output. Filling up your roof with inefficient panels will affect your ability to add more panels at a later date, and does not maximise the power output of the space.
It’s also important to bear in mind that regardless of claim, no solar panel technology will produce a significant amount of power in full shade. Learn more about monocrystalline vs. thin film panels.
Solar panel mounting
Make sure that the roof, ground mounting or tracking system is engineer certified for the area you are in. For example, if you live in a cyclone prone area make sure the mounting system and mounting brackets are also cyclone rated. Quality systems are wind certified. After all you do not want your system to take off during a wild storm . The mounting system is a very vital component and some suppliers skimp on this item. Make sure you ask about wind certification, warranty arrangements and get copies of relevant documents.
Solar inverter efficiency
A power inverter is the box between the panels and your appliances that converts DC electricity from solar panels to AC suitable for use in your home.
Not all solar inverters are equal and inverter efficiency will have a direct impact on the amount of time it takes for a system to pay for itself. Look at the inverter efficiency before purchasing a system. Obviously, the more efficient the inverter the better. Less electricity will be wasted as heat during the conversion from DC to AC. Industry leading solar inverters for grid connect systems in Australia include SMA, Sungrow and Fronius. Be cautious of generic type brands.
Get a few solar quotes
It always wise to gather a few solar quotes when making a major purchase as you will find that prices vary widely between providers. But don’t be just swayed by price as inferior components can reduce the up-front cost of the system. However, they may wind up costing you more in the long run in terms of reliability and efficiency.
Avoid high pressure sales people
High pressure sales tactics are unfortunately common in the solar industry. Try not to make decisions on the spot, just ask the person to let you consider the offer. If it’s as good as they claim, it will still be a good deal tomorrow. Pressured decisions on the spot often turn out to be less advantageous in reflection.
High pressure sales people are only one of the pitfalls that may await you when you shop for a solar power system. Learn more about the potential issues and how to avoid them in our consumers guide to solar power – avoiding tricks and traps.