In a recent news announcement, the NanoSolar Company announced a new set of accomplishments within the thin-film solar panels arena.
In 2002, Nanosolar began developing their solar energy manufacturing processes, and by 2010 Nanosolar had produced the first solar modules ready for field installations.
Their approach with printing CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenium) and nanoparticle inks has positioned them as the leader in the field. Their working methods minimize the use of expensive, high vacuum manufacturing equipment.
The nano solar thin-film technology produces very thin glass coverings. The great thing is that you don’t even know you have solar panels – there doesn’t even have to be intrusive structure. You can use this technology on your car paint job, your windows, or your house siding.
Nanosolar has achieved 17.1% efficiency on some devices, certified by NREL, which shows the potential of this technology to compete with the efficiency of crystalline silicon panels in the next several years.
Technological innovation on solar cell level
- Use of a highly conductive, low-cost aluminum foil as the substrate and bottom electrode of the cell.
CIGS ink with pre-defined ratio and a high-yield, high-throughput printing process to form an electronic-grade CIGS semiconductor.
- Novel Metal-Wrap-Through (MWT) back-contact design based on high-throughput foil lamination.
- Thin/printed transparent top electrode is the final piece of the structure.
- High output roll printable semiconductor technology to enable the world’s lowest-cost thin-film solar panels.
The result of the front-end cell production is a roll of inexpensive aluminum foil substrate coated with multiple thin-film layers totalling less than two microns. The final product rolls out like sheet steel or aluminum, yet acts like a solar panel.
The printed CIGS solar cells and panels are on track to reach efficiencies that can compete with crystalline silicon panels in the next several years.
Moreover, the Nanosolar Utility Panel’s innovative design significantly reduces balance-of-system costs through less mounting hardware, electrical cabling and installation labor.
It looks like thin-film solar has arrived for consumers – it’s still in the test phase, but should be released within the next month.