Net energy analysis for sustainable energy production from silicon based solar cells
International Solar Energy Conference
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A number of detailed studies on the energy requirements on the three types of photovoltaic (PV) materials, which make up the majority of the active solar market: single crystal, polycrystalline, and amorphous silicon were reviewed. It was found that modern PV cells based on these silicon technologies pay for themselves in terms of energy in a few years (1-5 years). They thus generate enough energy over their lifetimes to reproduce themselves many times (6-31 reproductions) depending on what type of material, balance of system, and the geographic location of the system. It was found that regardless of material, built-in PV systems are a superior ecological choice to centralized PV plants. Finally, the results indicate that efficiency plays a secondary role to embodied energy in the overall net energy production of modern solar cells.