Science,  Technology

Thin Film Solar Uses Are Heating Up

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, thin film photovoltaic (PV) cells produced roughly 3,700 megawatts of power worldwide in 2010. But recent research by Wintergreen Research shows that this might just be scratching the surface of what thin film evaporation can mean for the solar energy industry. Wintergreen Research estimates that thin film PV cells will be a $44 billion market by 2017, a 15-fold increase from 2010 levels.

So why is this market expected to grow so much within the next decade? The growth can be partially attributed to the potential for new markets. According to Wintergreen Research, the auto industry is continuing to make inroads toward the acceptance of solar-powered vehicles, which will drive the need for more advanced solar technologies. Solar power will also be a growth factor in building construction.

Thin film optical coating systems have several advantages for the solar industry. Traditional solar panels have relied on silicon cells. These cells are very thick and rigid. By contrast, thin film solar panels are much thinner — they can be as little as one perfect of the total thickness of a silicon solar layer. This makes thin film solar layers much more flexible and gives end users greater application options.

Along with thickness and flexibility, thin film solar offers another advantage over silicon layers: production time. It is much faster to produce a high volume of thin film solar panels than it is to produce ones made from silicon. For high volume jobs that might need solar panels on a short timeframe, thin film panels offer a major benefit.

This blog post was contributed by Denton Vacuum, LLC. Denton Vacuum, LLC is one of the largest manufacturers and retailers of commercial thin-film devices such as PECVD machines.

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