Thin Film Solar Panels
The manufacturing of thin film solar panels has sometimes been compared to money printing, by the fact that the design process is a roll-to-roll one, which is similar to paper and even money production to a certain extent. Thin film solar panels rely on the use of semi-conductive elements such as copper, indium or selenium for the design of the photo-voltaic cells. The costs for cells is pretty low, it is the silicone part that adds up considerably to the price. The non-silicon materials can be “printed” on flexible materials that are afterwards used in the applications for solar purposes.
There are two types of thin film solar panels: rigid and flexible. In the case of the rigid variant, the cells and the modules that they compose are designed as part of the same production segment. The cells are manufactured on a substrate that is usually made of glass, and the electrical connections are created on the spot. Amorphous silicon is the most widely used for the creation of thin film solar panels as it has a sun energy conversion rate that can be as high as 9%. On the other hand, the flexible thin-film solar panels are created by the superposition of the photo-active part on a flexible substrate.
The solar industry that relies on the use of thin film solar panels is expected to grow significantly over the next ten years, particularly since people's awareness concerning the benefits of green technologies has been enhanced a lot. The market for thin film solar panels is served by a pretty extended number of businesses that have grown to the status of brand names in the industry. Consequently, by 2010, it is expected that a 20% growth should be registered in the demand for thin film solar panels.
Thin film solar panels have a variety of applications but they are highly popular because of their versatility of usage. Particularly the flexible variety of solar panels allows for an extended use outside the premises of your house, when you go camping or hiking for instance. Such thin film solar panels can be rapidly mounted even on a rucksack, or on any other surface that you find convenient. It is nevertheless important that you check all the technical details with the manufacturer before making the purchase, as you need to know what you are paying the money for.