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Technology evolution of solar panels

In the past 12 years the technology evolution of solar panels has been huge. Change in the raw materials, power, sizes, amongst others have been very relevant. This has allowed solar energy to be more accesible and that more people can take advantage of this technology. In this blog we will share with you some general info regarding photovoltaic modules (solar panels), their evolution throughout the years, and what to expect for the future.

General info about solar panels

Solar panels raw materials

Solar panels are made of several materials. For example, the aluminum frames, sealing silicon, crystals, internal circuit lead, amongst others. However, the main component is the crystalline silicon. After its treatment, doping and celular conformation, it is the one in charge of transforming solar energy into electricity. For this transformation process, other important raw materials are needed, which define the quality of the solar panel.

Dark color of solar panels

This color is related to how pure the crystalline silicon is and its celular transformation process. Therefore, its color tone also indicates the capacity of solar radiation absorption. The more wavelengths a panel absorbs, the more its capacity to generate electricity.

Solar panels sizes

There are different solar panel sizes with different power capacities. For example, Trina’s Solar Vertex technology, with 210mm wide cells, has a model for every type of application. It adjusts to different energetic needs related to the use and size of the project. This product line has big photovoltaic cells. However, when cutting the cells by half or in three parts, different electric characteristics can be achieved. This allows to perfectly adjust to different applications.

Lifecycle of solar panels

The lifecycle of solar panels depends on several factors. Their correct handling during the installation process and an anual maintenance are key. If this is respected, it is possible for the solar panels to even increase their lifecycle. On average the warranties are:

  • From 25-30 years of warranty over the energy generation, being that:
    • 25 years for standard monophase modules
    • 30 years for bifacial modules with double crystal

When this time lapse has ended, the solar panels can still operate, but with a lower performance and efficiency. Otherwise, you can look for a local company that makes a correct disposal of the modules.

Technology evolution of solar panels

In the image below you can see the technological improvements of solar panels since 2009. In that year, the power of a solar panel was of 209 watts. Twelve years later the power has tripled to 670 watts. For the following years, technology advances are to be made to increase the power and efficiency of each solar panel. This results in the need of less solar panels, less cost, and more people with access to this technology.

Evolucion paneles solares

The good news is that the technology improvements of solar panels does not mean the “old ones” become obsolete. Despite the advances in technology, solar panels that were installed 10 or 15 years ago, continue to operate as usual. They all function from the same principle: electricity generation using sunlight and silicon.

The future

Solar panels technology improvements continue to make big steps. There are window-like panels, known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) that, although they look good physically, the technology is still not very efficient. This technology is facing a big challenge of producing massively. Its specifications are very different depending the application. Besides this, their reliability and productive process repetition makes it a high cost technology for general applications, compared to solar panels.

The future expands the use of solar panels in a very expressive way. Consumers become more independent of electric rate fluctuations and of the electric supply failures. The goal is to continue expanding clean energy resources and the easy application of solar energy. On-grid and off-grid systems enormously contribute to a more sustainable future.

Written by greenenergy® Costa Rica in collaboration with Guilherme Torrão, Product Manager for Trina Solar LATAM. Contact us for more info