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Photovoltaic technologies

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  • Bagnall, Darren M.
  • Boreland, Matt

Abstract

Photovoltaics is already a billion dollar industry. It is experiencing rapid growth as concerns over fuel supplies and carbon emissions mean that governments and individuals are increasingly prepared to ignore its current high costs. It will become truly mainstream when its costs are comparable to other energy sources. At the moment, it is around four times too expensive for competitive commercial production. Three generations of photovoltaics have been envisaged that will take solar power into the mainstream. Currently, photovoltaic production is 90% first-generation and is based on silicon wafers. These devices are reliable and durable, but half of the cost is the silicon wafer and efficiencies are limited to around 20%. A second generation of solar cells would use cheap semiconductor thin films deposited on low-cost substrates to produce devices of slightly lower efficiency. A number of thin-film device technologies account for around 5-6% of the current market. As second-generation technology reduces the cost of active material, the substrate will eventually be the cost limit and higher efficiency will be needed to maintain the cost-reduction trend. Third-generation devices will use new technologies to produce high-efficiency devices. Advances in nanotechnology, photonics, optical metamaterials, plasmonics and semiconducting polymer sciences offer the prospect of cost-competitive photovoltaics. It is reasonable to expect that cost reductions, a move to second-generation technologies and the implementation of new technologies and third-generation concepts can lead to fully cost-competitive solar energy in 10-15 years.

Suggested Citation

  • Bagnall, Darren M. & Boreland, Matt, 2008. "Photovoltaic technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4390-4396, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:12:p:4390-4396
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    Cited by:

    1. Dantas, Guilherme de A. & de Castro, Nivalde J. & Brandão, Roberto & Rosental, Rubens & Lafranque, Alexandre, 2017. "Prospects for the Brazilian electricity sector in the 2030s: Scenarios and guidelines for its transformation," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 68(P2), pages 997-1007.
    2. Hugo Gil Silva & Marcos Afonso, 2009. "Energia solar fotovoltaica: Contributo para um roadmapping do seu desenvolvimento tecnológico [Fotovoltaic solar energy: a contribute to a technological development roadmapping]," IET Working Papers Series 10/2009, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, IET/CICS.NOVA-Interdisciplinary Centre on Social Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology.
    3. Sharma, Sunita & Bulkesh Siwach, & Ghoshal, S.K. & Mohan, Devendra, 2017. "Dye sensitized solar cells: From genesis to recent drifts," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 529-537.
    4. Peters, Michael & Schmidt, Tobias S. & Wiederkehr, David & Schneider, Malte, 2011. "Shedding light on solar technologies'A techno-economic assessment and its policy implications," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 6422-6439, October.
    5. repec:eee:rensus:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:572-584 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Osorio, A.F. & Ortega, Santiago & Arango-Aramburo, Santiago, 2016. "Assessment of the marine power potential in Colombia," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 966-977.
    7. Grau, Thilo & Huo, Molin & Neuhoff, Karsten, 2012. "Survey of photovoltaic industry and policy in Germany and China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 20-37.
    8. Trapani, Kim & Millar, Dean L. & Smith, Helen C.M., 2013. "Novel offshore application of photovoltaics in comparison to conventional marine renewable energy technologies," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 879-888.
    9. Hosenuzzaman, M. & Rahim, N.A. & Selvaraj, J. & Hasanuzzaman, M. & Malek, A.B.M.A. & Nahar, A., 2015. "Global prospects, progress, policies, and environmental impact of solar photovoltaic power generation," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 284-297.
    10. Hoppmann, Joern & Peters, Michael & Schneider, Malte & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2013. "The two faces of market support—How deployment policies affect technological exploration and exploitation in the solar photovoltaic industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 989-1003.
    11. Timilsina, Govinda R. & Kurdgelashvili, Lado & Narbel, Patrick A., 2011. "A review of solar energy : markets, economics and policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5845, The World Bank.
    12. Asim, Nilofar & Sopian, Kamaruzzaman & Ahmadi, Shideh & Saeedfar, Kasra & Alghoul, M.A. & Saadatian, Omidreza & Zaidi, Saleem H., 2012. "A review on the role of materials science in solar cells," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(8), pages 5834-5847.
    13. Kaldellis, J.K. & Ninou, I. & Zafirakis, D., 2011. "Minimum long-term cost solution for remote telecommunication stations on the basis of photovoltaic-based hybrid power systems," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 2512-2527, May.
    14. Arango, Santiago & Larsen, Erik R., 2010. "The environmental paradox in generation: How South America is gradually becoming more dependent on thermal generation," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(9), pages 2956-2965, December.
    15. Peters, Michael & Schneider, Malte & Griesshaber, Tobias & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2012. "The impact of technology-push and demand-pull policies on technical change – Does the locus of policies matter?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1296-1308.
    16. Lian, Hongzhou & Hou, Zhiyao & Shang, Mengmeng & Geng, Dongling & Zhang, Yang & Lin, Jun, 2013. "Rare earth ions doped phosphors for improving efficiencies of solar cells," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 270-283.
    17. Bravi, Mirko & Parisi, Maria Laura & Tiezzi, Enzo & Basosi, Riccardo, 2011. "Life cycle assessment of a micromorph photovoltaic system," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 4297-4306.
    18. Brudermann, Thomas & Reinsberger, Kathrin & Orthofer, Anita & Kislinger, Martin & Posch, Alfred, 2013. "Photovoltaics in agriculture: A case study on decision making of farmers," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 96-103.
    19. Cavallaro, Fausto, 2010. "A comparative assessment of thin-film photovoltaic production processes using the ELECTRE III method," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 463-474, January.
    20. Paiano, Annarita, 2015. "Photovoltaic waste assessment in Italy," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 99-112.
    21. Wolfe, Philip, 2008. "The implications of an increasingly decentralised energy system," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 4509-4513, December.

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