Researchers discovered the potential of solar power technology more than a century ago and the first commercial photovoltaic solar panels were introduced in the 1950s. In fact, though more efficient than the original models, some photovoltaic solar panels use construction and technology that is similar to the first ever produced. But that doesn’t mean that solar technology isn’t advancing. New discoveries are making solar power more efficient, and therefore, more competitive with other power generating technologies.
Crystalline Silicon’s Success
Solar power technology is creating jobs and adding new power to America’s economy. Most solar power is generated through photovoltaic (PV) technology, which uses panels of specially-treated silicon to generate electricity from its reaction to sunlight. The original and most prevalent solar technology in monocrystalline silicon, which still provides some of the best efficiency, though it can be expensive to construct. Polycrystalline silicon is less expensive to make, but generally operates at lower efficiency levels.
Thin Film’s Versatility
A relatively new solar technology is thin film solar, which gives end user a lighter, though less efficient, option for solar power generation. With more development, thin film technology could help drive down prices. And with its portability, it could also help expand the use of solar technology into new areas, such as helping to power cars. If thin film can get efficiency into the 20 percent range, this technology could see much wider deployment due to its costs and portability.
Potential for New Technology
The first solar cell had just a 1 percent efficiency. Today, solar panels regularly generate 15 percent efficiency, with 20 percent being outstanding, and some cutting-edge technology could achieve as much as 40 percent efficiency from a solar cell. One new technology that is getting some notice is “black silicon.” By treating the surface of silicon to absorb more sunlight, these panels can generate more energy in areas with less light. Coating silicon black has in the past undercut efficiency, but now new methods are producing an efficiency of 22 percent.
Executing and Funding a Solar Project
Evaluating what kind of solar technology is best for your project can be a difficult question for many solar project builders. Vasari Energy can help developers and property owners develop solar projects by identifying and utilizing the best sources of technology and financing. If you have questions about solar power project finance, the professionals at Vasari Energy can provide expert guidance on a range of project finance and management issues on solar power projects for businesses and industries of all types and sizes.