Introduction and Techno-economic Background
The context for this book is the global demand for renewable energy and in particular for solar energy to provide a long-term solution for stable energy supply and substantial reduction in carbon emissions. This chapter first puts thin film photovoltaic (PV) in the context of other PV technologies such as crystalline silicon and emerging organic solar cells. The embodied energy in PV module manufacture is considered and the potential for a large reduction in the energy required for the production of thin film PV modules compared with crystalline silicon is noted. An analysis is also made of the economic factors that affect the choice for selecting thin film PV over other PV technologies. The many factors that affect the price of modules and the installed PV system are discussed and provide a context for the technological challenges covered by the book. These factors include the conversion efficiency of the thin film PV modules, the cost of materials and efficiency in the use of the materials in PV module manufacture.