There are two groups pf solar panel covering three different commercial types. A panel will either use Crystalline or Amorphous technologies. Currently the most common type is Crystalline as this has been around the longest. Of these there are two types, Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline.
Monocrystalline are made from thin slices cut from a single crystal. This produces a large single cell. A conductive metal strip runs over the cell acting as an electrical conductor. In the picture shown the crystal has been cut into roof tile sized pieces to create solar roof tiles.
Polycrystalline is similar except they use a group of smaller cells joined together. They tend to be slightly less efficient than the mono crystal albeit slightly cheaper to manufacture.
Amorphous or thin film panels use a different technology. No crystalline structure is present. Instead silicon is applied directly to a surface, usually a metal or glass. The major benefit over traditional panels are that they can be manufactured onto a flexible material making them much more versatile. They tend however not to be used for solar panels for homes as they require a larger surface area to generate the same amount of electricity compared to Crystalline panels.
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In 2010 the UK invested 3.3 billion dollars on clean energy technologies, half of this went on offshore wind farms. Germany invested 41.2 billion the same year, over 12 times as much.
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