Solar cells, also known as "solar chips" or "photovoltaic cells", are thin films of photovoltaic semiconductors that directly convert solar energy into electricity. Single solar cells cannot be used as a power source directly. In order to use them as a power source, several single solar cells must be connected in series or parallel and tightly packaged into modules.
Solar panels (also called solar cell modules) are assembled components made up of multiple solar cells, and are the core part of an Anern solar power system, making them the most important part of the system.
The photovoltaic conversion efficiency of monocrystalline silicon solar panel is about 15%, with the highest efficiency reaching 24%. It has the highest photovoltaic conversion efficiency of all types of solar panels, but its production cost is very high, making it unable to be widely used. Due to the fact that monocrystalline silicon is usually encapsulated with tempered glass and waterproof resin, it is sturdy and durable, with a service life generally reaching up to 15 years and a maximum of 25 years.
The manufacturing process of polycrystalline silicon solar panel is similar to that of monocrystalline silicon solar panel, but its photovoltaic conversion efficiency is reduced by quite a bit, with an efficiency of about 12%. Production costs are lower than monocrystalline silicon solar panels due to the use of simpler materials and manufacturing processes that save electricity, making them a more widespread and cost-effective option. However, the service life of polycrystalline silicon solar panel is shorter than that of monocrystalline silicon solar panel. In terms of performance to price ratio, monocrystalline silicon solar panel is slightly better.
Amorphous silicon solar panel is a new type of thin film solar panel that appeared in 1976. Its manufacturing process is completely different from that of monocrystalline silicon and polycrystalline silicon solar panel, with a much simplified process and much less silicon material consumption and electricity consumption. The main advantage of amorphous silicon solar panel is that it can still generate electricity under weak light conditions. However, the main issue with amorphous silicon solar panels is their low photovoltaic conversion efficiency, which is about 10% at the international advanced level, and they are not stable nor durable with their conversion efficiency decreasing over time.
Diversified compound solar panels are solar panels that are not made of a single-element semiconductor material. There are many varieties researched by countries, and most of them have not been industrially produced yet. The main types are:
Cadmium sulfide solar panel;
Gallium arsenide solar panel;
Copper indium selenide solar panel.