Nationwide Home Solar Power Contractors and Information
According to Nick Sherman, Director of Sales and Marketing at Solar Energy Exchange, approximately 10 percent of the total Megawatt hours installed in the world last year used thin film as their photovoltaic product of choice. While thin film is very popular in other countries, it is just beginning to grow in popularity in the U.S.
Sherman cites companies such as First Solar, Solar Cells, Sinonar Corp., and Kaneka as leading the way into the thin film market. First Solar conducts much of its work in Germany, which is pioneering ahead when it comes to solar technology. Sherman says,
“Germany is kind of the capital of solar in the world right now … Germany installs approximately 500,000 solar hot water installs a year compared to the U.S., which did less than 10,000 last year. A horrible stat if you look at the population and sun concentration advantages we have over Germany.”
Thin film has the advantage of being more affordable per watt and requiring less space than much bulkier, standard solar modules. “It’s basically laying out sheets,” Sherman explains. Because they have lower efficiency per square foot, however, thin film falls behind modules, especially when it comes to residential applications. Sherman says, “Thin film is only cost effective and feasible for large industrial projects … commercial applications find themselves lacking roof space availability, and for that reason you only see thin film on certain handpicked commercial applications.”
Thin film solar also has shorter warranties and a lower life expectancy than modules. According to Sherman,
“Thin film solar comes with a 10-15 year warranty compared to that of a 25-year warranty with modules. The life expectancy of thin film is 15-20 years while modules are expected to have 80 percent life efficiency year 40. Thin film puts out on average half of the production per square foot of that of solar modules.”
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