Canadian Solar's multicrystalline cells show future of advanced silicon solar innovation

September 27, 2019 | Case Study

Driven by lower costs and better solar energy conversion efficiencies, global photovoltaic (PV) installations grew by 102 GW in 2018, reaching a capacity of 509 GW. Estimated installed capacity will soar to 1 TW by 2022. The dominant PV technology uses crystalline silicon (c-Si) either as a single crystal (mono) or as a solid mixture of many crystals (multi). Mono solar cells are generally more efficient but pricier – though boosted efficiency and falling manufacturing costs drove mono to capture 45% of global PV market share in 2018. Yet to some extent, material choices and cell architectural designs don't matter, as the balance between multi and mono (or any other PV technology) boils down to $/W cost. In racing to lower costs, manufacturers virtually eliminated their profit margins – leading companies to look for innovation and differentiation in lowering silicon wafer costs and optimizing every part of a panel. Following this trend, Canadian Solar announced conversion efficiencies up to 22.8% for "cast-mono" silicon (Si) solar cells. The Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hamelin (ISFH) certified the efficiency results.

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