Solar photovoltaic electricity: Current status and future prospects
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.