Demand for Photovoltaics is on the Rise, Claims SNE Research03 May 2013 • by Natalie Aster
With the growth of developing countries, world fossil energy consumption is rapidly increasing, because it is essential to obtain vast amount of power for industrialization. Fossil fuels, however, are being consumed much faster than new fuels being made, and therefore on the brink of being exhausted. Without fossil fuels, the advancement of science human beings have enjoyed will stop, which can be a crucial question for human survival, not just an energy issue. Thus, there is an urgent need for the human race to develop new renewable energy sources within this century.
According to the report “Recent OPV technology and market forecast (2009~2020)” by SNE Research, among renewable energy, there is a growing need for photovoltaics as one of sustainable energy sources. Energy per unit time derived from the sun is 105 TW, which far exceeds the entire amount the earth requires. Although all energy derived from the sun is not available, photovoltaics are considered as one of the most attractive renewable energy sources due to relatively fewer regional differences and eco-friendliness.
Recent OPV technology and market forecast (2009~2020)
Published: January, 2013
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Especially, photovoltaics, which directly convert light into electric energy, go well with the modern life style requiring a lot of electric energy. The current silicon p-n junction diode solar cell technology shares the same concept with one already demonstrated by Bell Labs in the 1950s and has a long history. Nevertheless, commercially available solar cells have not significantly changed since the very beginning. This is because solar cells are large-area-oriented devices unlike other semi-conductor devices that show a growing trend toward smaller and highly integrated devices, and there are a lot of restrictions in terms of manufacturing costs. In other words, silicon solar cells technologies have very fewer choices in terms of technological attempts.
Thus, many researchers have tried to develop solar cells using new materials such as CdTe, III?V compound semi-conductor, thin-film silicon, and CIGS solar cells. As shown in the above figure, first generation technologies show relative high electricity conversion efficiency but involve high cell manufacturing costs, which include conventional single-crystalline silicon p-n junction diode-based solar cells. On the other hand, second-generation technologies show slightly lower or similar efficiency than first generation technologies but reduce manufacturing costs remarkably, which include various thin-film solar cell technologies. Third generation technologies refer to next-generation solar cell technologies that maximize efficiency by adopting the most advanced technologies such as nano and tandem structures, maintaining manufacturing costs to a similar level with second generation technologies.
More information can be found in the report “Recent OPV technology and market forecast (2009~2020)” by SNE Research.
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