New Theory Guide Available: OPVs vs. 2nd-Gen Solar Cell Technologies

Posted on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 by Ashley Wong

The solar cell market is currently dominated by crystalline silicon (c-Si) cells - also known as first-generation solar cells - which are lauded for their high efficiency and well-established manufacturing processes. Despite this, c-Si cells have high costs and a long payback time. As such, this type of solar cell is unlikely to be fully adopted until initial costs are lowered.

On the other hand, commercially-available thin-film solar cells (second-generation) are both affordable and easy to manufacture. This is due to their thin active layers, which use much less material than c-Si cells. They also pave the way for flexible and translucent solar cells.

graph of record efficiencies for 2nd-generation thin-film cells compared to organic photovoltaics
Record efficiencies for second-generation thin-film solar cells vs organic photovoltaics.


Beyond the technologies mentioned above are third-generation solar cells - which among others, includes organic photovoltaics (OPVs). This generation encompasses 'emerging' technologies that are less commercially available. OPVs are on their way to achieving efficiencies comparable to those of commercial c-Si cells, and typically have simpler manufacturing processes, higher defect tolerance, and fewer rare or toxic components.

You can learn more about the pros and cons of organic photovoltaics in comparison to second-generation solar cell technologies in our latest guide: Organic Photovoltaics vs. 2nd-Generation Solar Cell Technologies.

Author: Ashley Wong

Hailing from a Psychology background, Ashley has an MSc in Organizational/Work Psychology from the Sheffield University Management School. Prior to joining Ossila, Ashley worked with two multi-national organizations, researching emotional labour in the life insurance industry. In 2017, she successfully led the process of writing & applying for a prestigious Institute of Physics Business Innovation Award, which resulted in Ossila winning its first-ever industrial award.