The Efficiency Limitations of PV Panels

Put simply, photovoltaic (PV) panels are a device that generates electrical energy from sunlight. These panels are constructed from interconnected individual silicon cells that can differ in their construction depending on desired efficiency and cost limitations. In decreasing efficiency these cells are monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon and amorphous silicon. The latter two are cheaper due to their decrease in materials and construction quality. Despite the amazing technology of solar power systems, there is a still the issue of efficiency limitations.

Efficiency is measured by the ratio of light energy absorbed into the cell verse the total output of useable electricity. Power delivered by a solar cell can be measured by multiplication of voltage and current generated by the solar cell. The efficiency of a solar panel depends on various factors such as material used to produce the cells, temperature, including spectral distribution, resistance load of the cell, spatial distribution of power and so on. Efficiency of the solar cell varies from 6% for amorphous silicon-based solar cells to 40.7% with multiple-junction research lab cells.  But in general it is varies as:

Some researching organizations are claiming that an efficiency level of a solar cell has been achieved at 48.2%, although this was conducted in controlled lab conditions. Efficiency is ever increasing with technology and other measures such as improving anti-reflective film are assisting in achieving this goal. Despite the current inefficiencies, solar power remains a viable environmental and economics options for electricity generation. The following graphs display the economic benefits of the system;

Despite the environmentally friendly nature of solar energy, the photovoltaic cells still emit some CO2 while functioning. In addition emissions are released in the construction of the systems, which is nearly unavoidable using today’s technology. Despite these environmental drawbacks, the emissions of function and construction are still very miniscule when drawn in comparison with other methods of electricity generation as can be seen in the following graph.

In addition to the minimal emissions produced from solar power, this form of energy is collected from a completely inexhaustible source therefore taking no effect on the Earth’s resources to obtain. Advancements in technology and science ensure a bright future for solar power with increasing efficiency being inevitable as developments progress. Despite the few shortfalls of solar power, it still remains a viable economic and environmental source of electricity for both mass and household electricity generation.

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