The Prospects of Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conversion
Solar energy can be converted directly into electricity by means of solar cells. The costs of these cells have been reduced more than a factor of 20 in the past 15 years. Meanwhile the conversion efficiency has been increased more than expected, with a record value for a concentrator cell of 31%. Further improvements and cost reductions are expected, not only of cells but also of the solar cell modules and solar cell systems. At the moment PV-system costs amount to $ 10 per Watt and less. A cost reduction to below $ 1 – 2 per Watt is expected, although it probably will take two decades.
The market for PV now consists of small scale and stand-alone applications, in developing countries but also in the western world. At the end of the 1990s PV power is expected to be an attractive option for peak loads of the public grid. At costs below $ 1 – 2 per Watt PV power can be a competitive option for base load applications connected to the grid.
In the development of PV much attention is given to thin-layer solar cells like amorphous silicon solar cells. However, the present market is still dominated by crystalline silicon. The market might grow from 35 MW in 1988 to multithousand MW a year in the next century.
KeywordsSolar Cell Amorphous Silicon Gallium Arsenide Cadmium Sulfide Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell
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