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 technologyAlpex solar

Let 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 another thin film solar, that is mostly silicon-based. CIGS does not use the previously named 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 a 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

One big difference is that the CIGS is more light-sensitive and therefore will a 100 Watt peak CIGS panel produce around 10-15% more power in a year, than a 100 Watt peak crystaline panel. CIGS will start earlier in the morning and stay on for longer in the evening. It will also be better in grey weather when you need the power the most.

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

CIGS SolarCrystaline Solar
Yearly Yield+10-20%Standard
10% Shadows effectreduce the production with around 10-20%reduce the production with Around 60-80%
CO2uses significantly less Energy to produce than crystalineUses a lot of Energy during the production phase
Elements usageUses: Copper Indium Gallium and Selenide.Based on Silicium.
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 (vibrations in boats and cars) or pressure (from Snow and wind)
LifetimeSame on moving and non moving installationsWafers break/crack on moving installations (boats/cars/etc.) and the output deteriate much faster than on non moving installations
Temperature impactPower production decline approx. 0,3% per degree Celsius the temperature raisesPower production decline approx. 0,6% per degree Celcius the temperature raises
Effeciency (summer 2020)up to 19%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 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 Nice Solar that is of CIGS technology. The rest is crystalline.