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Solar photovoltaic electricity: Current status and future prospects

by T.M. Razykov, C.S. Ferekides, D. Morel, E. Stefanakos, H.S. Ullal, H.M. Upadhyaya
Solar Energy ()

Abstract

We review the technical progress made in the past several years in the area of mono- and polycrystalline thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technologies based on Si, III–V, II–VI, and I–III–VI2 semiconductors, as well as nano-PV. PV electricity is one of the best options for sustainable future energy requirements of the world. At present, the PV market is growing rapidly at an annual rate of 35–40%, with PV production around 10.66GW in 2009. Si and GaAs monocrystalline solar cell efficiencies are very close to the theoretically predicted maximum values. Mono- and polycrystalline wafer Si solar cells remain the predominant PV technology with module production cost around $1.50 per peak watt. Thin-film PV was developed as a means of substantially reducing the cost of solar cells. Remarkable progress has been achieved in this field in recent years. CdTe and Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin-film solar cells demonstrated record efficiencies of 16.5% and almost 20%, respectively. These values are the highest achieved for thin-film solar cells. Production cost of CdTe thin-film modules is presently around $0.76 per peak watt.

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