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What are the Different Types of Solar Panels?

We may be 93 million miles from the sun. But that doesn't stop its rays beating down on Earth with an intense force that can meet the entire planet's annual energy needs in just one minute. Of course, harvesting this power is a complex process.

So, what are our options? Read on as we look at the different types of solar panels.

The rise of renewable energy

The green energy revolution is gaining momentum. According to the International Energy Agency, renewables accounted for roughly two-thirds of new power added to the global grid in 2016. And the UK is no exception, with the national grid operating without coal power for 24 hours in April 2017, marking the first “clean” day since the industrial revolution.

Solar energy is already playing a huge role in powering the green energy movement, offering a variety of commercial, residential and recreational applications. Here’s a glimpse at what’s on offer and what’s on the horizon.

Monocrystalline Solar Panels (Mono-SI)

Highly economical, Monocrystalline Solar Panels are optimised for commercial use and offer efficiency rates of up to 20%. They’re manufactured from monocrystalline silicon and are easily recognisable from their dark tint. They’re also ultra-durable, but they do tend to come with a higher price tag.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels (Poly-SI)

Manufactured from melted raw silicon, Polycrystalline Solar Panels have a blue tint and signature square pattern. They offer a lower price point, but are not as efficient or durable as their Mono-SI counterparts.

Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)

Classified as 2nd Generation technology, Thin-Film Solar Cells see photovoltaic materials such as silicon, cadmium or copper layered onto a substrate. The manufacturing process is fast and economical which makes them a great option for budget projects. Flexibility and the strength to withstand high temperatures also makes them a favourite for alternative applications.

Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell (A-Si)

If you’ve ever used a solar powered calculator you’ll definitely recognise Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell panels. Relying on triple layered technology, these thin film panels measure in at just 1 micrometre thick (or one millionth of a metre). As a result, they offer low efficiency rates of just 7%, perfect for crunching numbers.

Biohybrid Solar Cell

While Biohybrid Solar Cell panels are still in the research and development phase, they’re paving the way for the 3rd Generation of solar technology. The concept is currently underway at America’s Vanderbilt University and is designed to harness the photosystem 1 process and simulate the natural process of photosynthesis.

Other technologies to watch include Cadmium Telluride Solar Cell (CdTe) and Concentrated PV Cell (CVP and HCVP). When positioned at the optimum angle the latter offers incredible efficiency rates of over 40%.

Our own solar panels

NBEC are specialists in solar panels, providing renewable power solutions to suit any circumstance and budget. To find out more about what’s on offer, take a look at our Buyers’ Guide to Solar Panels. Or, if you’re interested in adding solar panels to your property, use our online enquiry form to request a quote.

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