Updated: Nov 28, 2020
As time goes by, the technology of solar cell has evolved rapidly supported by R&D labs test results to enable high volume manufacturing sites with cost efficiency in mind. End customer like yourself are always looking for high efficiency solar panels with good aesthetic features and cheaper price. With these in mind, solar manufacturers are rushing to produce better and cheaper product. Solar manufacturers have to rigorously advance their R&D and manufacturing strategy.
There are many ways where they can explore to make this into realization.
First is the choice of material. The most abundance and cheap material that is available in this world is silicon. Silicon by itself comes from sand. However, for solar cell manufacturing purposes they will use combination of different gasses to produce poly-Silicon. Poly-silicon will be melted and transformed to become either monocrystalline silicon or multi-crystalline silicon that can be used for solar cell applications. Between mono and multi, mono will have better performance over multi. Click here for 4 main advantages/disadvantages between mono-silicon and multi-silicon solar cell. When processing poly-silicon to become monocrystalline silicon or multi-crystalline silicon, the mixture can be doped with phosphorus or boron to make a n-type of p-type, respectively. Within n-type and p-type, in terms of quality performance n-type will have better performance than p-type. Besides silicon based solar cell, another materials that is used in mass produce solar panel in known as cadmium telluride (CdTe), a type of thin film. By nature, thin film are less stable than silicon hence the thin film solar panel performance throughout the years is less compared to silicon based. In terms of safety, cadmium by itself is a heavy metal and very dangerous. The cadmium dust is extremely dangerous when inhaled and gets into your respiratory system. The CdTe solar panel manufacturer offer a free disposal for unwanted CdTe solar for a proper disposal by not harming the earth by disposing heavy metal into landfill. This label can be seen at the back of their CdTe solar panel.
Second is solar cell technology. Solar panel manufacturers are actively working on adopting various type of solar cell architecture into their product. The quality of n-type monocrystalline silicon material is much better than p -type, however in terms of pricing n-type is more expensive than p-type. In order for solar company to provide solar panel with higher performance at a cheaper price, they are adopting advance solar cell architecture to their p-type material such as passivated emitter rear contact technology (PERC). Some company are also offering competitive product by adopting PERC on n-type, which of course it comes with a price tag.
Due to the request of end user for high performance, good aesthetic and cheaper price of solar panel, solar manufacturer are striving by advancing their materials and solar cell architecture to create a better product at mass production. Previously, it is easy to say monocrystalline solar panel is indeed better than multi-crystalline solar panel. But not today. Manufacturer are getting smarter in adopting advance solar cell architecture onto cheaper multi crystalline silicon material to boost solar cell efficiency and maintain cheaper price tag. Because of this, to identify which solar panel is better for us is no longer straight forward. You have to consider all critical parameters before deciding which is the best for your application.