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Issue 71, 2016, Issue in Progress
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Techno-economic analysis of tandem photovoltaic systems

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Tandem solar cells offer the potential of conversion efficiencies exceeding those of single-junction solar cells, but also incur higher fabrication costs. The question arises under which conditions a tandem solar cell becomes economically preferable to both of the single-junction sub-cells it comprises. We present an analysis based on cost and efficiency relations to answer this question for a double-junction tandem solar cell. We find that combining two ideally band-gap-matched single-junction solar cell technologies into a tandem should be a “marriage of equals”: the sub cells should be produced at similar $ per W costs, both sub cells should have similar efficiencies when operated independently, and the costs to turn both cells into a system should be similar. We discuss examples of different hypothetical and actual tandem solar cell technologies and show the intricacies of imbalances in the mentioned factors. We find that tandem-solar-cell-based PV power stations for existing solar-cell technologies offer the potential to reduce the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), provided suitable top cells are developed.

Graphical abstract: Techno-economic analysis of tandem photovoltaic systems

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Mar 2016, accepted on 07 Jul 2016 and first published on 07 Jul 2016

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6RA07553C
Citation: RSC Adv., 2016,6, 66911-66923
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    Techno-economic analysis of tandem photovoltaic systems

    I. M. Peters, S. Sofia, J. Mailoa and T. Buonassisi, RSC Adv., 2016, 6, 66911
    DOI: 10.1039/C6RA07553C

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