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Solar energy can be captured by solar panels made from silicon based polysilicon PV cells (PolyVoltaic PV cells - a device that converts light energy into electrical energy) arranged as solar Panels or with other materials such as CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide), which currently is a new technology produced as panels or printed on various materials. Solar energy can also be produced through CSV (Concentrated Solar Power) using mirrors and harnessing the thermal radiation .

The efficiencies of normal silicon based panels range from 14% to 18% and the practical limit most say is around 25%. New CIGS technology panels are about 6% efficient but manufacturers are trying for 10% efficiencies, nevertheless they are cheaper to manufacture because the base material to make them is cheaper in relation to polysilicon and the process to produce them via a similar method to that of TFT panels, is simpler.

Polysilicon in the past few years has increased in price to around $70-90 on long contract is mainly causing the price of silicon based panels to hover around $2/Wp wholesale. The spot price of polysilicon is around $200/kg. Thin-film panels made from cadmium telluride are a more efficient option as compared with CIGS. Cadmium telluride isn't perfect either, as it has to be used on glass, and therefore is non-flexible. CdTe allows the use of 100 times less material than crystalline silicon, and it can be 100 times less pure. Present modules will run about 10% efficiency. With projected manufacturing costs running three to four times lower with CDTE thin film technology, cells should be competitive against other solar cells and fossil fuels. Future gains in CdTe efficiency, which theoretically could be better than that of silicon, and therefore drive the costs even lower.

Another major cost factor associated with the price of Solar panels is the plant equipment required to manufacture them. A 20MW amorphous silicon plant in the U.S. can cost $60 million in equipment and another $40 million in yearly expenses. The cost of ownership is as high as $2.50 to $3.00 per watt. Currently, the Chinese are advertising sales of amorphous silicon completed solar panels for 1.63 Euros or $2.20 per watt, less than the production cost in the U.S." The Information Network

Although amorphous silicon panels (producing the same energy output) cost about $2 wholesale, Cadmium telluride costs $1.40 per watt to produce; CIGS panels, about $2.10. Factor in marketing and distribution costs and "finished" U.S. made thin-solar panels are easily $3.50 per watt - 40% more expensive than their Chinese iterations. Thin-film solar panels are cheaper than their predecessor technologies (traditional crystalline silicon costs $2.90 per watt) even though amorphous solar cells are less efficient than CT and CIGS.

Because of the price of Polysilicon Some solar-cell manufacturers are trying to compensate for short supplies by using thinner crystalline silicon wafers in their solar cells. However, crystalline silicon also has a low absorptivity, which means photons can pass through a fair bit of material before finally being absorbed. Therefore, the silicon wafer must be relatively thick, approximately 100-300 micrometers.

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The table also indicates the energy production per square metre and the performance ratio. The performance ratio is a measure for the real energy production in relation to the theoretical maximum energy production, independent of the amount of solar irradiation.

DC yield
AC yield
AC yield
UniSolar -(a-Si) 1164 1038 64 0.95
Free Energy -(a-Si) 1084 961 40 0.88
BP Solarex -(a-Si) 1001 888 47 0.81
BP Solarex -(mono-cSi) 977 868 117 0.80
ASE - (EFG-Si) 966 857 104 0.79
Kyocera -(multi-cSi) 964 856 105 0.79
Siemens -(mono-cSi) 963 855 110 0.79
Shell Solar • (multi-cSi) 961 853 90 0.78
Siemens • (CIS) 930 824 67 0.76

The table shows that amorphous silicon modules can be expected to produce more energy for the same amount of installed nominal peak-power. The expected annual energy production of 1 kilo-Watt-peak of FEE panels is over 12% higher than that of 1 kWp of the average crystalline silicon panels.


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Afghanistan solar radiation acquisition data

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Summer data countrywide at 10km TILT (1.5Mb jpg)

Winter data countrywide at 10km TILT (1.5Mb jpg)

Autumn data countrywide at 10km TILT (1.5Mb jpg)

Spring data countrywide at 10km TILT (1.5Mb jpg)

Yearly Flat Plate Tilted data countrywide at 10km TILT (0.5Mb jpg)

Autumn Gobal Horizontal countrywide at 10km TILT (0.5Mb jpg)

Kabul Yearly chart

Countrywide data files download Here (zipped 6Mb)

Afghanistan / Pakistan Map solar radiation acquisition data

Spring data countrywide at 10km (6Mb pdf)


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