Conversion of Solar Radiation Into Electricity in Silicon Solar Cells: A Thermodynamic Assessment

[+] Author and Article Information
J. F. Osterle, S. R. Swantner

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

J. Sol. Energy Eng 113(4), 219-223 (Nov 01, 1991) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2929965 History: Received March 14, 1990; Revised May 30, 1990; Online June 06, 2008


The thermodynamic dissipations in crystalline silicon solar cells are identified and evaluated. The ratio of the exergy of the output electrical power to the exergy of the input solar radiation is the effectiveness of the solar cell. The input exergy is converted to the output exergy (the electrical power delivered) with a series of dissipations. These dissipations are identified and evaluated for crystalline silicon cells in terms of the thickness and certain fundamental properties of the light absorbing silicon semiconductor (in this case a P -type material). It is assumed that the N -type material is very thin and absorbs no radiation. For representative values of these properties and a range of thicknesses, it is found that the dissipations due to transmission and thermalization and in the photogeneration process are dominant. The dissipations due to the dark current and recombination are small.

Copyright © 1991 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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