more on CIGS

Sorry if Im on a rant but I have a bit to add on CIGS. All the posts i have read relate to Si based PV. Si is established and reliable but it is also expensive and dificult to manufacture. Is there any reason silicone based technology still is the only thing I can buy comercialy? CIGS is cheap and easy to manufacture. Is there a reason that NO manufacturer has this stuff on the market?I have heard of great plans from a few companies to have gigawatt scale production by 2004 or so. What happened to them? Is CIGS flawed in some way? in theory it should work much better than silicone.

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: more on CIGS

    I guess you are talking about:

    http://www.isetinc.com/cigs.html
    Thin film solar cells made from Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide (CIGS) absorbers show great promise in achieving high conversion efficiencies approaching 20%. The record high efficiency of CIGS solar cells (19.2% NREL) is by far the highest compared with those achieved by other thin film technologies such as Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) or amorphous Silicon (a-Si).

    These record breaking small area devices have been fabricated using vacuum evaporation techniques which are capital intensive and quite costly. It is very challenging for laboratories using vacuum processing to fabricate CIGS films of uniform composition on large area substrates. This limitation also affects the process yield, which are generally quite low with other industry groups. Because of these limitations, implementation of evaporation techniques has not been successful for large-scale, low-cost commercial production of thin film solar cells and modules and is non-competitive with the work-horse of today's crystalline silicon solar modules.

    To overcome the limitations of the physical vapor deposition techniques that use expensive vacuum equipment, we at ISET have been developing non-vacuum processes for the fabrication of CIGS solar cells.

    I would guess that price/performance/manufacturability/etc. have prevented them from being a commercial product at this time... People are trying many different technologies... However, 25+ years of life with low costs are not easy to achieve (and many people would prefer long term installations with good histories before putting out tens of thousands of dollars of cash--hoping that all works out 30 years from now).

    There are better technologies available now (NASA uses them on satellites)--but, since weight and area are not as big of issue for most people, they are willing to pay less per watt even if it takes more area.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: more on CIGS

    Cool site. I supoose my problem is that BILLIONS are being spent on technology that will never be useful.like carbon nano tubes!Or technology that is unquestionably dangerous like the polymer based coatings that use unspeakably dangerous chemicals in their production.In order to really be cost efective this technologyneeds to be easy and reliable to produce.I feel like I must be seeing a diferent program from the engineers working on these things since in industry we have been alloying coatings for nearly 600 years!(the vikings and before them the egyptions could plate realitivly large surfaces)That technology is not new.NASA has more demanding requirements on their projects than just not burning the house down.the outragous cost of full spectrum cells is well justified for them. On my house I could sacrifice some efficency if it would allow me to get the price under say $10,000.Oh and by the way propane refridgerators are CHEATING!!!
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: more on CIGS

    moonshadow,
    just so you know, you did not have to open another thread on the same subject. nobody has to answer the first one as they can now put it into the 2nd one if they see it of course. if they don't see it it can get confusing. you could have even added the extra to the same original posting by hitting modify or just added it as another posting to the same thread subject. this makes it easier reading for all to do it this way.
    on the subject of the thin films, i have the amorphous unisolar 64s. i'm wondering why they aren't priced even lower seeing they are so inefficient and short on warranty compared to the regular pvs? putting these pvs in the same price per watt range as regular pvs makes the amorphous more expensive, even if a few cents cheaper per watt, due to the costs of mounting and extra wiring may also be needed and we all know copper is outa sight any more.
    you should also know you can put in a system cheaper than the cost of your house, but it won't replace your utility in some cases. it does depend on how much your house is worth to say one way or the other, but in most cases a pretty nice system would go in place if equal to the cost of the house. in higher priced areas and homes you won't need that much to fully power your home by solar, but you would need enough area to mount them all. 8-)
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,608 admin
    Re: more on CIGS

    Well,

    $10,000 is probably doable--If you are willing to cut your energy usage through conservation and just plain turning things off... I can get under 200 kWhrs per month (but I do have natural gas for heating, cooking, hot water, etc.)... I oversized my system with the expectations of a battery or battery/hybrid car in the next few years. Right now, I use the "extra" power for a couple electric space heaters (I have grid tied solar with 1 year net metering and Time of Use contract).

    I can probably get the hot water and some heating addressed by solar too. In fact, it is usually cheaper to go with solar hot water and space heating than solar electric panels (return on investment vs the utility bill). I chose Solar Electric because of the high rebates (get some of my excessive California rates/taxes back), lack of required maintenance, and no extra space required (unlike hot water storage tanks).

    Propane (or any fuel/energy source) is not cheating--it is just using the best tool for the job at hand. Solar is not always possible in a given situation.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: more on CIGS
    moonshadow wrote:

    Propane refridgerators are CHEATING!!!
    I do have a problem with the design of propane fridges - being involved with them and knowing how and why they work, I find it shocking how inefficient they are in their consumption of propane. Any manufacturer could very easily redesign the heat exchanger, so the burner could use less than 1/10 the propane they now do. The waste in this area is, in my opinion, criminal. Due to the design, or lack thereoff, very little of the heat produced by the propane flame is ever transfered to the area it's needed to make the fridge work. Most, 95% or more, of that heat goes straight up the flue, doing absolutely nothing except heating your house, or the outside world if vented.
    Wayne
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