Current and Emerging Technologies and Materials for Solar Power Conversion

Authored by: Manthina Venkata , Agrios Alexander , Ahmad Shahzada

Sustainability in the Mineral and Energy Sectors

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498733021
eBook ISBN: 9781315369853
Adobe ISBN:


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Enough solar energy reaches the earth’s surface to cover humanity’s energy needs thousands of times over, yet it accounts for <1% of global energy consumption. This chapter presents an overview of technologies that have been developed for the direct conversion of sunlight to electrical power along with discoveries of materials and achievements. This includes silicon technologies, which are commercially dominant today; III–V technologies that offer the best performance at high cost; thin-film semiconductor materials such as copper indium gallium (di)selenide and cadmium telluride, which offer less power per area than silicon but more power per dollar; and emerging technologies such as copper zinc tin sulfide, organic, dye sensitized, and perovskite solar cells. Advantages and disadvantages of each approach are discussed including cost, power conversion efficiency, scalability, scarcity of critical elements, and environmental concerns such as toxicity. The outlook for future directions are discussed.

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