The difference between CIGS and Crystalline solar

Here I will explain the difference between today’s (summer 2017) widely used crystalline solar cells and CIGS, which have now become economically a better investment in most cases.

Crystalline technology

Cigs and crystalline differenesLet me start with in general terms explain how the “old” crystalline technology works.
It’s roughly a slice of pure silicon that is cut into very thin slices (called a wafer) and the wafer is then laid on a conductive backing glass or plastic and a conductive glass top on top.
When the sun shines through the top glass plate and reach the silicon, electricity is generated and that is the one we harvest.

That’s the quick explanation, but it’s comprehensive anyway.

CIGS technology

Solibro SL2 G2 Cigs and crystalline differenesCIGS is a thin film technology, but it is important that it is not confused with other thin film solar, that are mostly silicon based. CIGS does not use the previously rare element of silicon. CIGS stands for: Copper Indium Gallium deSelenide and these are the 4 elements in certain mixing ratios that are the active substance in CIGS.

The construction of CIGS is very different from crystalline as you burn the 4 elements onto a conductive surface with laser. This can be on a glass plate coated with a metal foil and as a glass sheet that is also coated with a metal film (transparent) on top, it produces electricity.
But since the active substance is in powder form, it offers more options! Therefore, you can also burn the 4 elements on eg. A piece of “tin foil” and on top put a flexible transparent laminate and now you have a very flexible solar module.

The differences between CIGS and crystalline solar cells

Here you can see some of the differences on CIGS and crystalline solar cells

Differens between CIGS and Crystaline solar technologies
CIGS SolarCrystaline Solar
Yearly Yield+10-20%Standard
10% Shadows effectreduce the production with max 10%reduce the production with up to 80%
CO2uses significantly less power to produce than crystalineUses a lot of power during the production phase
Rare elements usageUses: Copper Indium Gallium and Selenide, which is not rare elementsBased on Silicium, which is becomming a rare element in the world
FlexibilityVery flexibel modules availibleonly semi flexible, due to the wafer build
Micro cracksYou will have to penetrate the module to make cracks... which then might not be micro....due to the wafer build, the crystalline module are vulnerable to microcracks which will decrease efficiency and might in extreme cases course fire.
DurabilityDue to the "powder" build up, there is no wafers to crack or damageWafers don't like transportation or pressure (from Snow and wind)
LifetimeSame expected liftime
Temperature impactPower production decline approx. 0,3% per degree Celsius the temperature raisesPower production decline approx. 0,6% per degree Celcius the temperature raises
Effeciencyup to 17%Up to 23%
Weightdown to 2,9 kg/m2down to 5,5 kg/m2
Typically warranty5 or 10 years workmanship. 25 years powerloss3 or 10 years workmanship. 25 years powerloss
LooksTypically all black, but can be produced in all colors and even transparentBlack for Mono crystalline and blueish for poly crystalline

As you can see, there are many differences and often CIGS is the best technology for many projects.

Price difference

There is no big difference in price on CIGS and Crystalline solar cells, and within the flexible solar cells, CIGS is clearly preferable.
It is expected that prices for both types of solar technologies will fall further in the coming years, but at Energig, we expect CIGS to fall the most, as there are steadily a number of major production benefits that can be obtained.

What possible solar panels are there?

Energig has more solar brands available.
It is Solibro, Miasolé and Global Solar that is of CIGS technology. The rest is crystalline.

Here you will find all our solar cells