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The most comprehensive, authoritative and widely cited reference on photovoltaic solar energy

Fully revised and updated, the Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering, Second Edition incorporates the substantial technological advances and research developments in photovoltaics since its previous release. All topics relating to the photovoltaic (PV) industry are discussed with contributions by distinguished international experts in the field.

Significant new coverage includes:

  • three completely new chapters and six chapters with new authors
  • device structures, processing, and manufacturing options for the three major thin film PV technologies
  • high performance approaches for multijunction, concentrator, and space applications
  • new types of organic polymer and dye-sensitized solar cells
  • economic analysis of various policy options to stimulate PV growth including effect of public and private investment

Detailed treatment covers:

  • scientific basis of the photovoltaic effect and solar cell operation
  • the production of solar silicon and of silicon-based solar cells and modules
  • how choice of semiconductor materials and their production influence costs and performance
  • making measurements on solar cells and modules and how to relate results under standardised test conditions to real outdoor performance
  • photovoltaic system installation and operation of components such as inverters and batteries.
  • architectural applications of building-integrated PV

Each chapter is structured to be partially accessible to beginners while providing detailed information of the physics and technology for experts. Encompassing a review of past work and the fundamentals in solar electric science, this is a leading reference and invaluable resource for all practitioners, consultants, researchers and students in the PV industry.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470721698
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 1162
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 2.50 (d)

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Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-471-49196-9

Chapter One

Status, Trends, Challenges and the Bright Future of Solar Electricity from Photovoltaics

Steven S. Hegedus and Antonio Luque


Congratulations! You are reading a book about a technology that has changed the way we think about energy. Solar electricity, also known as photovoltaics (PV), has shown since the 1970s that the human race can get a substantial portion of its electrical power without burning fossil fuels (coal, oil or natural gas) or creating nuclear fission reactions. Photovoltaics helps us avoid most of the threats associated with our present techniques of electricity production and also has many other benefits. Photovoltaics has shown that it can generate electricity for the human race for a wide range of applications, scales, climates, and geographic locations. Photovoltaics can bring electricity to a rural homemaker who lives 100 kilometers and 100 years away from the nearest electric grid connection in her country, thus allowing her family to have clean, electric lights instead of kerosene lamps, to listen to a radio, and to run a sewing machine for additional income. Or, photovoltaics can provide electricity to remote transmitter stations in the mountains allowing better communication without building a road to deliver diesel fuel for itsgenerator. It can help a major electric utility in Los Angeles, Tokyo, or Madrid to meet its peak load on hot summer afternoons when air conditioners are working full time. It allows homes and businesses a new level of guaranteed energy availability and security, and photovoltaics has been powering satellites orbiting the Earth or flying to Mars for over 30 years.

Photovoltaics is an empowering technology that allows us to do totally new things, as well as, do old things better. It allows us to look at whole new modes of supplying electricity to different markets around the world and out of the world (in outer space). It also allows us to do what we already do (generate electricity, which is distributed over the transmission grid) but to do it in a sustainable, pollution-free, equitable fashion. Why is photovoltaics equitable? Because nearly every one has access to sunlight!

Electricity is the most versatile form of energy we have. It is what allows citizens of the developed countries to have nearly universal lighting on demand, refrigeration, hygiene, interior climate control in their homes, businesses and schools, and widespread access to various electronic and electromagnetic media. Access to and consumption of electricity is closely correlated with quality of life. Figure 1.1 shows the Human Development Index (HDI) for over 60 countries, which includes over 90% of the Earth's population, versus the annual per capita electricity use (adapted from ref 1). The HDI is compiled by the UN and calculated on the basis of life expectancy, educational achievement, and per capita Gross Domestic Product. To improve the quality of life in many countries, as measured by their HDI, will require increasing their electricity consumption by factors of 10 or more, from a few hundred to a few thousand kilowatt-hrs (kWh) per year. How will we do it? Our choices are to continue applying the answers of the last century such as burning more fossil fuels (and releasing megatons of C[O.sub.2], S[O.sub.2], and N[O.sub.2]) or building more nuclear plants (despite having no method of safely disposing of the high-level radioactive waste) or to apply the new millennium's answer of renewable, sustainable, nonpolluting, widely available clean energy like photovoltaics and wind. (Wind presently generates over a thousand times more electricity than photovoltaics but it is very site-specific, whereas photovoltaics is generally applicable to most locations.)


Photovoltaics is the technology that generates direct current (DC) electrical power measured in Watts (W) or kiloWatts (kW) from semiconductors when they are illuminated by photons. As long as light is shining on the solar cell (the name for the individual PV element), it generates electrical power. When the light stops, the electricity stops. Solar cells never need recharging like a battery. Some have been in continuous outdoor operation on Earth or in space for over 30 years.

Table 1.1 lists some of the advantages and disadvantages of photovoltaics. Note, that they include both technical and nontechnical issues. Often, the advantages and disadvantages of photovoltaics are almost completely opposite of conventional fossil-fuel power plants. For example, fossil-fuel plants have disadvantages of: a wide range of environmentally hazardous emissions, parts which wear out, steadily increasing fuel costs, they are not modular (deployable in small increments), and they suffer low public opinion (no one wants a coal burning power plant in their neighborhood). Photovoltaics suffers none of these problems. The two common traits are that both PV and fossil fueled power plants are very reliable but lack the advantage of storage.

Notice that several of the disadvantages are nontechnical but relate to economics and infrastructure. They are partially compensated for by a very high public acceptance and awareness of the environmental benefits. During the late 1990s, the average growth rate of PV production was over 33% per annum.

What is the physical basis of PV operation? Solar cells are made of materials called semiconductors, which have weakly bonded electrons occupying a band of energy called the valence band. When energy exceeding a certain threshold, called the band gap energy, is applied to a valence electron, the bonds are broken and the electron is somewhat "free" to move around in a new energy band called the conduction band where it can "conduct" electricity through the material. Thus, the free electrons in the conduction band are separated from the valence band by the band gap (measured in units of electron volts or eV). This energy needed to free the electron can be supplied by photons, which are particles of light. Figure 1.2 shows the idealized relation between energy (vertical axis) and the spatial boundaries (horizontal axis). When the solar cell is exposed to sunlight, photons hit valence electrons, breaking the bonds and pumping them to the conduction band. There, a specially made selective contact that collects conduction-band electrons drives such electrons to the external circuit. The electrons lose their energy by doing work in the external circuit such as pumping water, spinning a fan, powering a sewing machine motor, a light bulb, or a computer. They are restored to the solar cell by the return loop of the circuit via a second selective contact, which returns them to the valence band with the same energy that they started with. The movement of these electrons in the external circuit and contacts is called the electric current. The potential at which the electrons are delivered to the external world is slightly less than the threshold energy that excited the electrons; that is, the band gap. Thus, in a material with a 1 eV band gap, electrons excited by a 2 eV photon or by a 3 eV photon will both still have a potential of slightly less than 1 V (i.e. the electrons are delivered with an energy of 1 eV). The electric power produced is the product of the current times the voltage; that is, power is the number of free electrons times their potential. Chapter 3 delves into the physics of solar cells in much greater detail.

Sunlight is a spectrum of photons distributed over a range of energy. Photons whose energy is greater than the band gap energy (the threshold energy) can excite electrons from the valence to conduction band where they can exit the device and generate electrical power. Photons with energy less than the energy gap fail to excite free electrons. Instead, that energy travels through the solar cell and is absorbed at the rear as heat. Solar cells in direct sunlight can be somewhat (20-30°C) warmer than the ambient air temperature. Thus, PV cells can produce electricity without operating at high temperature and without mobile parts. These are the salient characteristics of photovoltaics that explain safe, simple, and reliable operation.

At the heart of any solar cell is the pn junction. Modeling and understanding is very much simplified by using the pn junction concept. This pn junction results from the "doping" that produces conduction-band or valence-band selective contacts with one becoming the n-side (lots of negative charge), the other the p-side (lots of positive charge). The role of the pn junction and of the selective contacts will be explained in detail in Chapters 3 and 4. Here, pn junctions are mentioned because this term is often present when talking of solar cells, and is used occasionally in this chapter.

Silicon (Si), one of the most abundant materials in the Earth's crust, is the semiconductor used in crystalline form (c-Si) for 90% of the PV applications today (Chapter 5). Surprisingly, other semiconductors are better suited to absorb the solar energy spectrum. This puzzle will be explained further in Section 1.10. These other materials are in development or initial commercialization today. Some are called thin-film semiconductors, of which amorphous silicon (a-Si) (Chapter 12), copper indium gallium diselenide (Cu(InGa)[Se.sub.2] or CIGS) (Chapter 13), and cadmium telluride (CdTe) (Chapter 14) receive most of the attention. Solar cells may operate under concentrated sunlight (Chapter 11) using lenses or mirrors as concentrators allowing a small solar cell area to be illuminated with the light from larger area. This saves the expensive semiconductor but adds complexity to the system, since it requires tracking mechanisms to keep the light focused on the solar cells when the sun moves in the sky. Silicon and III-V semiconductors (Chapter 9), made from compounds such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) are the materials used in concentrator technology that is still in its demonstration stage.

For practical applications, a large number of solar cells are interconnected and encapsulated into units called PV modules, which is the product usually sold to the customer. They produce DC current that is typically transformed into the more useful AC current by an electronic device called an inverter. The inverter, the rechargeable batteries (when storage is needed), the mechanical structure to mount and aim (when aiming is necessary) the modules, and any other elements necessary to build a PV system are called the balance of the system (BOS). These BOS elements are presented in Chapters 17 to 19.


Borrowing a format for discussing photovoltaics from Kazmerski, in this section, we will briefly present and then dispel six common myths about photovoltaics. In the following sections, we identify serious challenges that remain despite 40 years of progress in photovoltaics.

The six myths are as follows:

1. Photovoltaics will require too much land area to ever meet significant fraction of world needs:

Solar radiation is a rather diffuse energy source. What area of PV modules is needed to produce some useful amounts of power? Let's make some very rough estimates to give answers that will be accurate within a factor of 2. Using methods described in detail in Chapter 20 (especially equations 20.50 and 20.51 and Table 20.5), one can calculate how much sunlight falls on a square meter, anywhere in the world, over an average day or a year. We will use an average value of 4 kilowatt-hrs (kWh) per [m.sup.2] per day to represent a conservative worldwide average. Now, a typical PV module is approximately 10% efficient in converting the sunlight into electricity, so every square meter of PV module produces, on average, 4 x 0.1 = 0.4 kWh of electrical energy per day. We can calculate the area in [m.sup.2] needed for a given amount of electrical energy E in kWh by dividing E by 0.4 kWh/[m.sup.2]. (Chapter 20 contains much more detailed methods to calculate the incident sunlight and the PV module output as a function of time of day, month of year, etc.)

Let us consider three different-sized PV applications: a family's house in an industrialized country, replacing a 1000 MW (megawatt) coal or nuclear powered generating plant, or providing all the electricity used in the USA.

First, for a typical family, let us assume that there are four people in the house. Figure 1.1 shows a range of electricity usage for the industrialized countries. Let us use 6000 kWh/person/year as an average. But, this includes all their electrical needs including at work, at school, as well as the electricity needed for manufacturing the products they buy, powering their street lights, pumping water to their homes, and so on. Since people spend about a third of the day awake in their home, let us assume that a third of their electrical needs are to be supplied in their home, or 2000 kWh/person/year. Dividing this by 365 days in a year gives about 5 kWh/person/day, or 20 kWh/day per family of four. This is consistent with household data from various sources for the US and Europe. Thus, they would need 20 kWh/0.4 kWh/[m.sup.2] or 50 [m.sup.2] of solar modules to provide their electrical power needs over the year. Thus, a rectangular area of solar modules of 5 by 10 meters will be sufficient. In fact, many roofs are about this size, and many homes have sunny areas of this size around them, so it is possible for a family of four, with all the conveniences of a typical modern home, to provide all their power from PV modules on their house or in their yard.

Next, how much land would it take to replace a 1000 MW coal or nuclear power plant that operates 24 hours/day and might power a large city? This would require [10.sup.6] kW x 24 hr/(0.4 kWh/[m.sup.2])or 6 x [10.sup.7] [m.sup.2]. So, with 60 [km.sup.2] (or 24 square miles) of photovoltaics we could replace one of last century's power plants with one of this century's power plants. This is a square 8 km (or 5 miles) on a side. For the same electricity production, this is equivalent to the area for coal mining during the coal powered plant's life cycle, if it is surface mining, or three times the area for a nuclear plant, counting the uranium mining area. This is also the same area required to build a 600 km (373 miles) long highway (using a 100 m wide strip of land).

Finally, we can calculate how much land is needed to power the entire US with photovoltaics (neglecting the storage issue). The US used about 3.6 x [10.sup.12] kWh of electricity in 2000. This could be met with 2 x [10.sup.10] [m.sup.2]. If we compare with the area of paved roads across the country, of about 3.6 x [10.sup.6] km and assume an average width of 10 m this leads to 3.6 x [10.sup.10] [m.sup.2].


Excerpted from Handbook of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering Copyright © 2003 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

About the Editors.

List of Contributors.

Preface to the 2nd Edition.

1 Achievements and Challenges of Solar Electricity from Photovoltaics  (Steven Hegedus and Antonio Luque).

1.1 The Big Picture.

1.2 What is Photovoltaics?

1.3 Photovoltaics Today.

1.4 The Great Challenge.

1.5 Trends in Technology.

1.6 Conclusions.

2 The Role of Policy in PV Industry Growth: Past, Present and Future (John Byrne and Lado Kurdgelashvili).

2.1 Introduction.

2.2 Policy Review of Selected Countries.

2.3 Policy Impact on PV Market Development.

2.4 Future PV Market Growth Scenarios.

2.5 Toward a Sustainable Future.

3 The Physics of the Solar Cell (Jeffery L. Gray).

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 Fundamental Properties of Semiconductors.

3.3 Solar Cell Fundamentals.

3.4 Additional Topics.

3.5 Summary.

4 Theoretical Limits of Photovoltaic Conversion and New-generation Solar Cells (Antonio Luque and Antonio Martı).

4.1 Introduction.

4.2 Thermodynamic Background.

4.3 Photovoltaic Converters.

4.4 The Technical Efficiency Limit for Solar Converters.

4.5 Very-high-efficiency Concepts.

4.6 Conclusions.

5 Solar Grade Silicon Feedstock (Bruno Ceccaroli and Otto Lohne).

5.1 Introduction.

5.2 Silicon.

5.3 Production of Silicon Metal/Metallurgical Grade Silicon.

5.4 Production of Polysilicon/Silicon of Electronic and Photovoltaic Grade.

5.5 Current Silicon Feedstock to Solar Cells.

5.6 Requirements of Silicon for Crystalline Solar Cells.

5.7 Routes to Solar Grade Silicon.

5.8 Conclusions.

6 Bulk Crystal Growth and Wafering for PV (Hugo Rodriguez, Ismael Guerrero, Wolfgang Koch, Arthur L. Endros, Dieter Franke, Christian Haßler, Juris P. Kalejs and H. J. Moller).

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 Bulk Monocrystalline Material.

6.3 Bulk Multicrystalline Silicon.

6.4 Wafering.

6.5 Silicon Ribbon and Foil Production.

6.6 Numerical Simulations of Crystal Growth Techniques.

6.7 Conclusions.

7 Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells and Modules (Ignacio Tobıas, Carlos del Ca˜nizo and Jesus Alonso).

7.1 Introduction.

7.2 Crystalline Silicon as a Photovoltaic Material.

7.3 Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells.

7.4 Manufacturing Process.

7.5 Variations to the Basic Process.

7.6 Other Industrial Approaches.

7.7 Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Modules.

7.8 Electrical and Optical Performance of Modules.

7.9 Field Performance of Modules.

7.10 Conclusions.

8 High-efficiency III–V Multijunction Solar Cells (D. J. Friedman, J. M. Olson and Sarah Kurtz).

8.1 Introduction.

8.2 Applications.

8.3 Physics of III–V Multijunction and Single-junction Solar Cells.

8.4 Cell Configuration.

8.5 Computation of Series-connected Device Performance.

8.6 Materials Issues Related to GaInP/GaAs/Ge Solar Cells.

8.7 Epilayer Characterization and Other Diagnostic Techniques.

8.8 Reliability and Degradation.

8.9 Future-generation Solar Cells.

8.10 Summary.

9 Space Solar Cells and Arrays (Sheila Bailey and Ryne Raffaelle).

9.1 The History of Space Solar Cells.

9.2 The Challenge for Space Solar Cells.

9.3 Silicon Solar Cells.

9.4 III–V Solar Cells.

9.5 Space Solar Arrays.

9.6 Future Cell and Array Possibilities.

9.7 Power System Figures of Merit.

9.8 Summary.

10 Photovoltaic Concentrators (Gabriel Sala and Ignacio Anton).

10.1 What is the Aim of Photovoltaic Concentration and What Does it Do?

10.2 Objectives, Limitations and Opportunities.

10.3 Typical Concentrators: an Attempt at Classification.

10.4 Concentration Optics: Thermodynamic Limits.

10.5 Factors of Merit for Concentrators in Relation to the Optics.

10.6 Photovoltaic Concentration Modules and Assemblies.

10.7 Tracking for Concentrator Systems.

10.8 Measurements of Cells, Modules and Photovoltaic Systems in Concentration.

10.9 Summary.

11 Crystalline Silicon Thin-Film Solar Cells via High-temperature and Intermediate-temperature Approaches (Armin G. Aberle and Per I. Widenborg).

11.1 Introduction.

11.2 Modelling.

11.4 Crystalline Silicon Thin-Film Solar Cells on Intermediate-T Foreign Supporting Materials.

11.5 Conclusions.

12 Amorphous Silicon-based Solar Cells (Eric A. Schiff, Steven Hegedus and Xunming Deng).

12.1 Overview.

12.2 Atomic and Electronic Structure of Hydrogenated Amorphous Silicon.

12.3 Depositing Amorphous Silicon.

12.4 Understanding a-Si pin Cells.

12.5 Multijunction Solar Cells.

12.6 Module Manufacturing.

12.7 Conclusions and Future Projections.

13 Cu(InGa)Se2 Solar Cells (William N. Shafarman, Susanne Siebentritt and Lars Stolt).

13.1 Introduction.

13.2 Material Properties.

13.3 Deposition Methods.

13.4 Junction and Device Formation.

13.5 Device Operation.

13.6 Manufacturing Issues.

13.7 The Cu(InGa)Se2 Outlook.

14 Cadmium Telluride Solar Cells (Brian E. McCandless and James R. Sites).

14.1 Introduction.

14.2 Historical Development.

14.3 CdTe Properties.

14.4 CdTe Film Deposition.

14.5 CdTe Thin Film Solar Cells.

14.6 CdTe Modules.

14.7 Future of CdTe-based Solar Cells.

15 Dye-sensitized Solar Cells (Kohjiro Hara and Shogo Mori).

15.1 Introduction.

15.2 Operating Mechanism of DSSC.

15.3 Materials.

15.4 Performance of Highly Efficient DSSCs.

15.5 Electron-transfer Processes.

15.6 New Materials.

15.7 Stability.

15.8 Approach to Commercialization.

15.9 Summary and Prospects.

16 Sunlight Energy Conversion Via Organics (Sam-Shajing Sun and Hugh O'Neill).

16.1 Principles of Organic and Polymeric Photovoltaics.

16.2 Evolution and Types of Organic and Polymeric Solar Cells.

16.3 Organic and Polymeric Solar Cell Fabrication and Characterization.

16.4 Natural Photosynthetic Sunlight Energy Conversion Systems.

16.5 Artificial Photosynthetic Systems.

16.6 Artificial Reaction Centers.

16.7 Towards Device Architectures.

16.8 Summary and Future Perspectives.

17 Transparent Conducting Oxides for Photovoltaics (Alan E. Delahoy and Sheyu Guo).

17.1 Introduction.

17.2 Survey of Materials.

17.3 Deposition Methods.

17.4 TCO Theory and Modeling: Electrical and Optical Properties and their Impact on Module Performance.

17.5 Principal Materials and Issues for Thin Film and Wafer-based PV.

17.6 Textured Films.

17.7 Measurements and Characterization Methods.

17.8 TCO Stability.

17.9 Recent Developments and Prospects.

18 Measurement and Characterization of Solar Cells and Modules (Keith Emery).

18.1 Introduction.

18.2 Rating PV Performance.

18.3 Current–Voltage Measurements.

18.4 Spectral Responsivity Measurements.

18.5 Module Qualification and Certification.

18.6 Summary.

19 PV Systems (Charles M. Whitaker, Timothy U. Townsend, Anat Razon, Raymond M. Hudson and Xavier Vallve).

19.1 Introduction: There is gold at the end of the rainbow.

19.2 System Types.

19.3 Exemplary PV Systems.

19.4 Ratings.

19.5 Key System Components.

19.6 System Design Considerations.

19.7 System Design.

19.8 Installation.

19.9 Operation and Maintenance/Monitoring.

19.10 Removal, Recycling and Remediation.

19.11 Examples.

20 Electrochemical Storage for Photovoltaics (Dirk Uwe Sauer).

20.1 Introduction.

20.2 General Concept of Electrochemical Batteries.

20.3 Typical Operation Conditions of Batteries in PV Applications.

20.4 Secondary Electrochemical Accumulators with Internal Storage.

20.5 Secondary Electrochemical Battery Systems with External Storage.

20.6 Investment and Lifetime Cost Considerations.

20.7 Conclusion.

21 Power Conditioning for Photovoltaic Power Systems (Heribert Schmidt, Bruno Burger and Jurgen Schmid).

21.1 Charge Controllers and Monitoring Systems for Batteries in PV Power Systems.

21.2 Inverters.

22 Energy Collected and Delivered by PV Modules (Eduardo Lorenzo).

22.1 Introduction.

22.2 Movement between Sun and Earth.

22.3 Solar Radiation Components.

22.4 Solar Radiation Data and Uncertainty.

22.5 Radiation on Inclined Surfaces.

22.6 Diurnal Variations of the Ambient Temperature.

22.7 Effects of the Angle of Incidence and of Dirt.

22.8 Some Calculation Tools.

22.9 Irradiation on Most Widely Studied Surfaces.

22.10 PV Generator Behaviour Under Real Operation Conditions.

22.11 Reliability and Sizing of Stand-alone PV Systems.

22.12 The Case of Solar Home Systems.

22.13 Energy Yield of Grid-connected PV Systems.

22.14 Conclusions.

23 PV in Architecture (Tjerk H. Reijenga and Henk F. Kaan).

23.1 Introduction.

23.2 PV in Architecture.

23.3 BIPV Basics.

23.4 Steps in the Design Process with PV.

23.5 Concluding Remarks.

24 Photovoltaics and Development (Jorge M. Huacuz, Jaime Agredano and Lalith Gunaratne).

24.1 Electricity and Development.

24.2 Breaking the Chains of Underdevelopment.

24.3 The PV Alternative.

24.4 Examples of PV Rural Electrification.

24.5 Toward a New Paradigm for Rural Electrification.



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