Best Thin Film Solar Panels – Amorphous, Cadmium Telluride or CIGS? Energy


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Best Thin Film Solar Panels – Amorphous, Cadmium Telluride or CIGS?

Thin film solar panels accounted for 11% of all solar panel sales in 2011. [1] Production capacity is expected to grow at an annual rate of 24%, reaching more than 22 GW by 2020 (or a global market share of 38% in terms module production). [2]

There are three primary types of thin film solar panels on the market today: Amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS). In the overview chart below you can see their main characteristics:

Protocrystalline, nanocrystalline (nc-Si), black silicon, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC) and other organic solar cells will not be covered in this article. These technologies still have a long way to go in research and development before they are ready for the market.

Amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS) have several other benefits and downsides in addition to what you read in the chart above:

  • Significantly higher temperature resistance compared to crystalline-based solar panels.
  • Many thin-film modules are flexible, which greatly increases the number of potential applications (e.g. curved surfaces, building-integrated photovoltaics).
  • Better resistance against shading.
  • Lower efficiency rates mean you need a physically larger system for the same power output.
  • Installation costs goes up because you need to install more solar panels.
  • Thin film solar panels tend to degrade faster.
  • Silicon costs are declining and silicon-based solar panels (e.g. mono- and polycrystalline) are becoming more affordable.

Amorphous silicon (a-Si)

The first thin film solar cells were based on amorphous silicon. The technology is most commonly used in devices that require very little power (e.g. pocket calculators) because of low efficiency rates.

The future of larger-scale amorphous silicon solar panels does not look very bright: Sharp retired 160 out of their 320 MW production capacity in Japan earlier this year.

Optisolar, Signet Solar, Unisolar, and many other companies that were touting the amorphous technology are acquired, bankrupt or closed.

Energy Matters, one of the leading solar installers in Australia, recommend amorphous thin film solar panels for their customers in far North Queensland and the Northern Territory due to performance advantages in high temperatures (better heat resistance).

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)

It’s all about First Solar when it comes to cadmium telluride solar panels. Abound Solar has declared bankruptcy and General Electric`s PrimeStar is failing. First Solar is the world-record holder for CdTe thin film module (14.4%) and cell (18.7%) efficiency, and backs their solar panels with a limited 25-year power output warranty. [5] The company is currently building a 230 MW solar power plant in Antelope Valley and looks to generate $0.8 billion to $1.0 billion of operating cash flow in 2013. [7]

In some situations, typically multi-kilowatt systems in higher temperatures, CdTe-based solar panels can beat mono- and polycrystalline solar panels in terms of costs.

There are, however, environmental issues with products that rely on cadmium – a heavy metal and potential carcinogen that can accumulate in plant and animal tissue. While the threat is minimal as long as the compound is contained within the solar panel, the disposal and recycling can be both dangerous and costly.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIS/CIGS)

Solyndra, MiaSolé, Nanosolar, AQT, Solopower and many more – the list of CIS/CIGS companies that have failed goes on and on. In the midst of distress sales and bankruptcies, the Japanese manufacturer Solar Frontier seems to be doing something right. The company recently built out a 1 GW factory and shipped 577 MW worth of solar panels in 2011.

The CIGS-technology might also see some success via Hanergy, a Chinese company that has gained a strong position in the thin film solar market through the acquisition of MiaSolé and Solibro.

In 2013, scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, successfully created CIGS solar cells on flexible polymer foils with a new record efficiency of 20.4%. [3] This makes CIGS-based solar panels the highest performing thin film solar panels to date.

Also worth mentioning is that less of the toxic material cadmium is present in CIGS solar cells (compared to solar cells made out of cadmium telluride).

So, which thin film solar panel type is really the best? First of all, a mono- or polycrystalline solar panel is a better choice for the vast majority of homeowners. If you`re looking for a large-scale system, have the extra space required, and live in an area where the temperature is unusually high, thin film solar panels can make sense. If you want a flexible option, your options are amorphous silicon or CIGS.

The next step would be to predict long-term earnings and costs of specific solar modules. Go for a product that is backed up with a good performance guarantee/warranty.

If you want expert guidance to find out which solar panel is better in your situation, simply request a Free Solar Consultation .


The Real Cost of Leasing vs #buying #solar #panels, #leasing, #solar #electric


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The Real Cost of Leasing vs. Buying Solar Panels

Buying solar panels requires an investment and more decision-making than leasing, but over the long term the benefits of owning your system are hard to beat.

Best Ways to Pay for Your Panels

Cash
Buying your solar electric system outright is best. It usually costs $15,000 to $20,000 after tax credits and can reduce your electricity bill by 70 to 100 percent, depending on the size and orientation of your roof and local regulations. Most systems pay for themselves in five to seven years.

Home Equity Loan
If you need to finance your solar panel purchase, the most cost-effective way to do it is to use a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. Because your house serves as collateral, these options have low interest rates (currently about 3 to 5 percent). The interest you pay is tax deductible. Equity loans range from 5 to 20 years and usually have fixed interest rates. Equity lines last 10 years and have variable rates (so the interest may increase).

Solar Loan
There are unsecured and secured solar loans. With an unsecured loan, your house doesn’t act as collateral and the interest isn’t tax deductible. Many solar installers work with lenders that offer solar loans, but you’ll probably find better rates by directly checking with banks, and credit unions. Watch out for high origination fees. Fannie Mae also offers consumers financing for solar system installations through its HomeStyle Energy Mortgage Program when they buy a new house or refinance.

Why Leasing Isn’t a Bright Idea

The steep up-front costs for a residential solar system can make a leasing company’s sales pitch sound pretty appealing: Pay little or nothing and save hundreds of dollars per year on average. (The premise is that you save because the combination of your lease payment and your electric bill is less than what you currently pay for power.) Leasing can also look seductively simple compared with buying: There’s no need to shop separately for an installer and financing; you just sign on the dotted line. So it’s not surprising that 72 percent of the people who installed residential solar systems in 2014 did so through leasing or another type of third-party arrangement. But the reality is not quite so sunny.

Your Savings Will Be Modest
People who lease their solar systems save far less than those who buy them outright or with a loan (they also miss out on federal tax benefits and any local incentives). Many leases contain an escalator clause that can further reduce savings by increasing payments 3 percent per year. So if you’re paying 12 cents per kilowatt-hour in year one, with a 3 percent escalator, you’ll be paying 18.2 cents in year 15. That means that if the cost of energy doesn’t rise as quickly as the contracted lease payments increase, your savings could evaporate.

You Lose Control of Your Roof
Leasing companies want to maximize their profit, so there’s a chance you could wind up with more panels than you want and that they could be installed in highly visible places—such as facing the street—without any regard to appearance. To avoid that, check the final system design and placement before signing the lease. It could be different from the initial mock-up.

Leases Can Scare Off Home Buyers
If you put your house on the market before the lease is up (usually 20 years), you will either have to buy out the lease or the person purchasing your home will have to assume it—which some are reluctant to do.

That’s what happened to Andrew and Nora Barber, who had to buy out the lease on the solar system on their Clovis, Calif. home after two prospective buyers were frightened away by it. “I offered the solar company $16,000, which was the total of all the payments for the remainder of the contract,” Andrew says. “But $21,000 was the buyout price in the contract, and the company wouldn’t budge.”

Some solar leasing companies may offer to relocate their systems from one house to another. That could cost $500 for an initial audit and another $500 to transfer the panels, if the leasing company determines it can be done. You would also need approval from your utility and local landmarks commission or the condo or homeowner’s association, if applicable. Plus the new house must be able to accommodate the old system.

And remember: At the end of the lease, the solar company could remove the system—and your savings along with it.

Service Plans Don’t Serve You
Though leasing companies tout their service plans, maintenance is a red herring. “Generally, there’s really no scenario where the maintenance plan is going to kick in,” says Joshua Pearce, an engineering professor and solar expert at the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab. Equipment problems aren’t covered by the maintenance plan, they’re covered by the warranty. And if a storm destroys your panels, the damage may be covered by your homeowners insurance.

That’s why—whether you buy or lease—it’s essential that you inform your insurer. (Roof-mounted solar is generally added as part of a standard homeowners policy at no additional cost; ground-mounted solar may require an insurance rider.)


Select Solar Panels, PV, 12V Solar Panel Kits UK #select #solar, #12v


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My wife and I chose Select Solar, to install a photovoltaic (PV) system after lengthy research and talking to other solar installers. What impressed us first was how easy it was to talk with Colin Howe and how knowledgeable he was with the current state of the solar industry. We had two requirements in reducing our electrical cost; find a way to reduce our daily demand and then create supplemental power that we would use in our house and feed back to the local electric grid.

the order arrived the next day.

Easy to order and no problems whatsoever.100% happy.

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Like your website

Most cost effective quote. Install is of high quality and they were good to work with. I recommend them if you are considering putting solar at your home.

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Thank you Colin. I had a technical enquiry that was dealt with by Colin over the telephone. Very professional service and answered in terms that I could understand. My specific technical enquiry was dealt with a professional manner but without the salesman jargon that I had been getting all day.

Take a look at our featured products.

Select Solar – the solar power specialists

Select Solar – the solar power specialists, with one of the biggest and best selection of solar pv energy products for business and leisure. We sell top quality branded solar products backed by full warranties, complete technical specifications, and excellent uk customer service.

Whether you need 12V or 24V solar panels or just components (such as a charger for your motorhome or boat) or full solar panel kits with accessories for professional business or leisure projects, Battery Back-up for your existing Solar Installation, we may well have exactly what it is you are looking for.

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15 Best U #solar #energy, #us #solar #energy #companies, #energy #reserves, #solar


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America s Best Solar Energy Companies

Solar Energy has gone from a fringe interest of the environmentally aware, to a viable option in new home construction and renovation. More businesses and government entities are also turning towards solar to power self-contained systems to promote energy reserves on site. Here are the best 15 US solar energy companies today. Some of them are very new, and some have been working with solar technology and construction for well over 30 years.

15 Best U.S. Solar Energy Companies

1. Verengo Solar – This one has become one of the top 3 residential solar installing companies in the US just based on market share. It has done so well that there is rumor it is now inviting buyers. Focused on the residential market, Verengo Solar reportedly installed over 12,000 solar units in residences since it opened for business. It is considered to be very friendly to those just beginning to explore solar lifestyles, but also scores well with business and commercial accounts too.

2. SolarCity – Next on the list is another of the largest residential solar installation companies in the US. What really makes SolarCity a standout in the industry is it also has its own manufacturing division. While they mostly work with residences, they also can provide for government and non-profit purchase, leasing and PPA programs as they can manufacture their panels to fit the order. Their installation and financing abilities also help to make SolarCity one of the best companies to choose to get started with solar in your home or business.

3. Sungevity – This company really makes the grade for being the pioneers in the US industry in solar leasing. They offer leasing and financing, but they are not dependent on each other. The effect of this model is it allowed for Sungevity to expand to offer solar options in underserved areas by promoting satellite distribution and installation companies under their brand logo. Their leasing has been a hit with residential, PPA and business entities; plus their other services have made them a strong and steady presence in the traditional market, including government and non-profit needs.

4. SunPower – This company has the distinction of being a worldwide leader in solar cell and module manufacturing, as well as a leading installer of solar equipment. It is a US based company, and their primary focus was on developing the residential market. While focused on home solar use, SunPower also has a very strong commercial arm, which places them in the top 3 of the providers and installers in the 48 states for business and government use. Their product line covers everything from small DIY projects, to home conversions, new construction and corporate installations too.

5. Sunrun – Sunrun is a relative newcomer to the industry, incorporating in 2007. They currently only serve 11 states, but within those states they have now become one of the largest solar installers. They don t do any manufacturing, but they are leasing and installation specialists. Their contracts are evenly divided over residential, commercial and government contracts. They also are one of the first choices for PPA customers and those just beginning to explore solar power.

6. RGS Energy – RGS Energy is a division of Real Goods Solar. Real Goods Solar is the 5 th largest US residential solar installation company. Their RGS Energy division is their latest innovation to bring their products to more residences, businesses and other PPA customers. They offer both leasing and financing. RGS has been serving customers for over 35 years and are considered one of the pioneers in making solar energy a viable alternative for private homes and businesses.

7. OneRoof Energy – One of the newer companies on the market, OneRoof Energy. this company was founded in 2011. They neither make nor sell solar modules, panels or components; they are a bespoke lease agent for other companies. The bonus for their companies is this has allowed them to carve out a niche in leased services and components that let companies and residential customers take the best advantage of industry discounts. They can also bring to an under-served area solar access through their negotiated access.

8. PetersenDean – PetersenDean started in 1984 and have been one of the primary leaders and innovators in the US solar energy market since. They combine roofing services with solar installation. The solar component is a relatively new addition to their divisions, but their longstanding history in the roofing marker has given them the edge on what different markets need to make solar energy viable. They have a high residential service percentage, but also do commercial work and government contracts too.

9. Vivint Solar – Right on the heels of PetersenDean is Vivint Solar. They don t have a roofing division but have divisions devoted to home security and automation. Like PetersenDean they have launched into the solar market by making the best use of their knowledge of residential and commercial needs. As of 2013, they were ranked 2 nd in the nation as a provider of solar installation. They do installation and lease products, sell components but do no manufacturing of their own. They serve residential, business and government agencies through direct sales, leasing and PPA agreements.

10. Horizon Solar Power – Horizon is an unusual addition to this list as they are mostly centered on the Southern California area. This area does represent one of the highest ratios of solar energy use in the nation. To that end, they are a leading provider of residential solutions. Their focus is on solar inclusion in rehabs, and in new construction. With their unique price agreements with solar module and component manufacturers, they are also the leading provider of discount panels to residential customers.

11. Solar World USA – SolarWorld is a solar pioneer, one of the world’s largest solar-technology producers and the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer for 40 years. In its technology, manufacturing, performance, service and environmental track record, the company is a solar industry leader.

12. Solar Universe – Headquartered in California, Solar Universe has been providing locally owned and operated solar to neighborhoods across the country since 2008 through their locally owned and operated franchise network. They ve developed a unique solar franchise network which brings energy savings to consumers and businesses through our network of locally owned and operated franchises.

13. First Solar – First Solar is the global leader in photovoltaic (PV) solar energy solutions. First Solar has developed, financed, engineered, constructed, and currently operates many of the world’s largest grid-connected PV power plants in existence. By integrating technologies, services and expertise across the entire solar value chain, First Solar delivers bankable PV energy solutions that enable a world powered by reliable and affordable solar electricity.

14. Trinity Solar – Trinity Solar is the leading designer and integrator of solar electric systems in the Northeast. Their mission is to provide high-performing, cost-effective, environmentally responsible solutions to address the energy needs of our customers. Trinity has installed over 7,000 solar power systems, grown to over 350 employees, has become the largest solar provider in the Northeast, and is now one of the top ten solar providers in the nation.

15. Suniva Suniva is the leading American manufacturer of high-efficiency, cost-competitive PV solar cells and modules. The company is known worldwide for its high-quality solar products, patented low-cost manufacturing technology, and long-term reliable performance. Our ground-breaking manufacturing process ensures the combination of high power and exceptional value in every product we make, while our research milestones continue to set the standard in the global PV marketplace.

The common thread with all of these US solar energy companies is they have recognized that there are more places solar can be applied than thought before. The new leasing and discount programs make it easier for residences and businesses to incorporate solar energy in their constructions. Rather than think that houses need to be all solar, there is more drive to put solar assistance in place for existing fossil fuel systems.

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Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels #tesla, #tesla #solar #panels, #new


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Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels

Elon Musk s solar roof tiles won t fit the bill for every home. Some homeowners won t want to replace their entire roofs. but Tesla. of course, already has a solution. They re now marketing sleek, low-profile solar panels that are easy to install and better blend in with roofs than traditional panels.

Leave it to Tesla to offer an elegant alternative to traditional solar panels. They updated the Energy section of their website over the weekend to include new images of their solar panels. The seamless look of the new technology is thanks to integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware according to Tesla s website. Electrek said these features come from Zep Solar. a mounting equipment company SolarCity acquired before Tesla s acquisition. Zep Solar engineers designed the rail-less system Solar City employed to slash solar installation times in half.

Tesla says their panels exceed industry standards for durability and lifespan on their website. Panasonic will be manufacturing the exclusive panels at the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. There aren t many specifics available for the new solar panels yet, but Electrek said they will be 325-watt panels. They noted Panasonic sells other 325 watt panels, and those have a 25-year power output warranty and a 21.76 percent module efficiency.

Tesla and before that SolarCity used to install solar panels from multiple suppliers as many solar companies do, but told Electrek once these new panels go into production, Tesla will use them for all residential projects in the future. It seems Elon Musk aims at offering solar solutions with better aesthetics for those who have been hesitant to go solar in the past with the bulky rooftop options.

Anyone interested right now can request a custom quote on Tesla s website. The company told Electrek production should begin this summer.