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The primary cost drivers in solar cell marketing are materials and manufacturing processes. Most solar cells in use today use silicon as the semiconductor that enables the photoelectric effect within the solar cell. Silicon is abundant but also expensive and in high demand as the solar and electronics industries compete for global supplies. However, ramped-up production in 2009 has facilitated a significant drop in the cost of silicon and thus, solar cells.
Yet solar cells are still expensive, and that has much to do with the production costs. Silicon is expensive to process from raw material to solar cell semiconductor. For that reason, streamlining the production process has become a top goal for solar industrialists, and while advancements have certainly been made, production costs remain high.
The cost of silicon processing has led many solar cell producers to turn to other semiconductor materials, spawning the rise of the thin-film solar cells. Arizona-based First Solar is a world leader in thin-film technology with their cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells. These ignore silicon altogether in favor of cheaper materials that can be arranged into much thinner solar cells, thereby reducing both material and manufacturing costs. Thin-film solar producers have succeeded in reducing cell costs considerably. Unfortunately, to date, silicon is still the most efficient of solar cell materials at converting sunlight to electricity. So, a hidden detractor for thin-film solar cells is that more of them are needed to produce the same amount of solar energy as silicon solar cells. Nevertheless, and regardless of solar cell type, there is a downward trend in cell cost that will hopefully render obsolete the question, "Why are solar cell so expensive?"
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Standard Solar worked diligently through difficult weather… to complete our project. All were polite and helpful no matter the question. They provided the customer with a great sense of confidence and competency. The camaraderie within the crew was easily recognized as a major asset. We would highly recommend Standard Solar.
His craftmanship is good, has a great eye to detail.