Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Suntech Power developed a cheaper high efficiency solar cell design which is part monocrystalline and part multicrystalline silicon.

Clean Power

Hybrid Monocrystalline and Multicrystalline Solar Cells

Suntech Power developed a cheaper high efficiency solar cell design which is part monocrystalline and part multicrystalline silicon.

"Solar crystals: A new solar panel from Suntech incorporates cells made using a new silicon-wafer casting process. The cells—the smaller squares inside the panel—are half monocrystalline (the dark areas of the cells) and half multicrystalline (the variegated areas)."

Suntech Power developed an efficient hybrid solar cell than can reduce the cost of solar power by 10% to 20%. As I mention sometimes in articles, remember not to confuse percentage with percentage points. 20% cheaper is 20% of the cost subtracted from the current cost.

Suntech is a Chinese company and these cells are 70% monocrystalline silicon and multicrystalline silicon is the other semiconductor. The new hybrid silicon wafers are half the cost of traditional monocrytalline wafers manufactured 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 is actually 10-20%.

The idea underlying the manufacturing process was patented more than 20 years ago but it was never commercially developed by the patent holders.

Monocrystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells are the most efficient type of solar cells commonly used today, and multicrystalline solar cells which are made from molten silicon and cooled to harden, are less expensive than monocrystalline, but less efficient as well.

The production process of monocrystalline solar cells is extremely expensive due to the fact that an enormous amount of energy is required to manufacture them. A consequence of this is that it takes a long time for them to generate as much electricity as was used to manufacture the older monocrystalline type (15 years maximum, but it is not normally this long, modern solar cells average a couple to a few years).

The importance of this is mainly dependent on the source of energy used to manufacture them. If the energy source is coal, then it is a considerable problem, but if the energy source of nuclear, then it is not very important. Another factor to consider is the energy source that the solar cells would replace.

How much pollutant and CO2 emissions they ameliorate is also dependent on how “dirty” the source of energy they are replacing is. Coal is a good energy source to replace. If they are replacing nuclear power plants, however, then it doesn’t really help emissions. Multicrystalline solar cells are manufactured by a less energy-intensive process involving melting silicon and then cooling it.

Suntech CEO Stuart Wenham says that production can be scaled up quickly because it is compatible with existing wafer processing factory machinery and he also expects the photovoltaic (solar cell) industry to adopt similar manufacturing methods in the next two years.

h/t Technology Review

Related Stories on CleanTechnica:

  1. Molecular Sandwich Could Boost Solar Cell Efficiency by 35%
  2. High-Efficiency Solar Cells Getting More Efficient, Cheaper
  3. Kyocera Sets New Solar Cell Efficiency Record

Image Caption via Technology Review; Credit:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:


You May Also Like

Clean Power

SCHOTT Solar announced the world’s first monocrystalline screen-printed solar cell on Wednesday -- with conversion efficiency of 20.2%. The Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, another...


Exotic new thin film and spray-on solar products have been getting a lot of attention lately, but within “older” solar technology there is still...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.