31 July 2007
The use of silicon based solar panels are predominant in today's market. The silicon-based solar panels are often heavy (because of the glass used as substrates), which in turn lead to high shipping and installation costs. A better alternative, thin film organic-based solar panel, has gained great interest in recent years.

The researchers at Princeton, in 2004, demonstrated organic photovoltaic cells of improved efficiency by stacking two hybrid, planar, heterojunction organic cells in series. By using copper phthalocyanine as donor and C-60 as acceptor, they were able to collect both long and short wavelength solar energy and a maximum power conversion efficiency of 5.7% with an open voltage cirguit of 1.2 volts.

More recently, in 2007, researchers at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in Korea and at the University of California, Santa Barbara have announced the creation of a tandem solar cell. It better utilizes sunlight and has an efficiency of 6.5%. Through a three layer panel: one cell on top, a layer of nano titanium oxide in the middle, and another cell on the bottom, this design allows the top layer to absorb luminous light and the lower layer to absorb infrared waves. Furthermore, the lifetime of these organic-based photovoltaic solar cells can be lengthened through a special encapsulation process.

Conventional silicon-based solar cells cost $2.3 to generate one watt of electricity; the organic-based solar cells cost $0.1 to generate the same amount of electricity. It is expected that these organic-based solar cells will dominate the solar energy market through uses on windows, roofs, mobile devices, or even clothes etc. The total market for organic solar cells will be $1 billion in 2012 and $6 billion in 2014, as predicted by IDTechEx.

Here's the link to the Princeton research paper.

Here's a link to the GIST/UCSB research paper.

(via IDTechEx)


Anonymous Alison Chaiken said...
I bet the $0.1/W cost for the organic solar cells doesn't include the cost of forming the cells into a panel or installing the panel. According to talks I've heard recently by T.J. Rodgers of SunPower and a blueribbon panel of solar experts, installation cost can easily be half of total cost. The cost of manufacturing a panel can be another 10% of total installed cost. So while I agree with you that very inexpensive cells will find some uses, the idea that will displace solar in roof-top applications is just hype. Taking fixed costs and the fixed size of roofs into account, no one wants 5.7%/20% ~ 25% of the power!

I always find this blog stimulating. Thanks for taking the trouble.