Monocrystalline silicon panels
Monocrystalline silicon panels are the ideal choice in applications where space is limited. Given the drop in efficiency that these panels suffer at high temperatures, they are particularly suited for installations in colder climates.
Monocrystalline silicon cells are made from single crystals of silicon. In totally pure silicon, the atoms form a perfect crystalline structure with excellent conductivity. The higher the purity of the silicon, the greater its efficiency (touching even 15%). Given the same available space, monocrystalline silicon panels can achieve twice or even three times the efficiency of amorphous silicon panels. The cost per Watt produced by monocrystalline panels, however, is actually higher.
Much more energy is consumed to produce this type of panel, so that they can take 3-6 years to repay the energy consumed to make them (compared to 2-3 years for amorphous silicon panels). Over their useful lifetime, a monocrystalline panel will produce only 4-8 times that energy. Their large energy footprint is therefore the main disadvantage of this type of photovoltaic panel.
Another problem with monocrystalline silicon technology is the substantial drop in efficiency that occurs if shadows are cast over even a small part of the panel’s surface, either by passing clouds or during the early morning and evening.
Monocrystalline silicon cells are very dark blue in appearance, are generally octagonal in shape and about 0.2 to 0.3 mm thick.