“Solar crystals: A new solar panel from Suntech incorporates cells made using a new silicon-wafer casting process. The solar cells —the smaller squares inside the panel—are half mono-crystalline (the dark areas of the cells) and half multi-crystalline (the variegated areas).”
These solar cells are 70% mono-crystalline silicon and the new hybrid silicon wafers are half the cost of traditional mono-crystalline wafers manufactured by using the traditional method. Solar cell wafers are only a fraction of the cost of solar panels, so the overall cost reduction for solar power as we said is actually 10-20%.
This idea of the manufacturing process was patented more than 20 years ago but it was never commercially developed by the patent holders. Mono-crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells are the newest and most efficient type of solar cells commonly used today. The older multi-crystalline solar cells which are made from molten silicon and cooled to harden, are less expensive than mono-crystalline but less efficient as well.
An enormous amount of energy is required to manufacture the production process of mono-crystalline solar cells and is very expensive. A direct consequence of this fact is about how long time will takes them to generate as much electricity to cover that one necessary to manufacture them (up to 15 years).
So, there are two factors of influence in analyzing the issue. First is about on what kind of energy is used to manufacture them and another is to consider what kind of energy source would replace these solar cells.
How much pollutant or carbon dioxide they will ameliorate is connected on how clean the source of energy they will replace is. Talking about coal, this is a good energy source to replace but in case of the nuclear power the environment isn’t really helped. Manufactured by a less energy process, multi-crystalline solar cells involve melting silicon and then cooling it.
Stuart Wenham, the Suntech CEO expects the photovoltaic industry to adopt similar manufacturing methods in the next two years and he also added that production can be scaled up quickly being compatible with existing wafer processing factory machinery.