What does a PV panel made of?


Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular as a renewable energy source, but have you ever wondered what exactly they are made of and how they are made? Understanding the composition and manufacturing process of solar panels is important for anyone interested in sustainable energy solutions. The most common type of PV panel is made using crystalline-silicon (c-SI). This blog will examine the materials utilized in crystalline silicon solar panels as a specific example.

According to the Institute for Sustainable Futures, the typical crystalline silicon solar panel is composed of approximately 76% glass, 10% plastic polymer, 8% aluminum, 5% silicon, 1% copper, and less than 0.1% silver and other metals. These materials are carefully selected and combined to ensure the durability and efficiency of the solar panels.


1. Silicon

Silicon is the most crucial raw material in the production of PV panels. It is a semiconductor material that has the unique property of being able to convert sunlight into electricity. The silicon used in PV panels is typically in the form of silicon wafers, which are manufactured from high-purity silicon ingots. The quality and purity of the silicon directly impact the efficiency and performance of the PV panels.


2. Silver and other metals

During the process of slicing the silicon ingot into thin disks, also known as wafers, various materials such as boron, phosphorus, and silver are added to the wafers. These materials are used to create free electrons within the wafers, which can then be converted into electric current. This process is an essential part of creating semiconductor devices such as integrated circuits and solar cells.


3. Copper

With excellent electrical conductivity and malleability, copper is the ideal material for creating intricate wiring systems that facilitate the movement of electrical current throughout the panel. Copper conductors and copper wires are arranged in different configurations to connect the cells and form a complete cell-to-cell circuit.


4. Plastic polymer

The back sheet is made from highly durable, polymer-based material. This will prevent water, soil, and other materials from entering the panel from the back. Subsequently, the junction box is added to enable connections inside the module. You could also consider choosing Bifacial Double-Glass panels to achieve higher energy yields.


5. Aluminum

The frame of a PV panel is usually made of aluminum or stainless steel to provide structural support and protection for the panel components. The frame ensures that the panel can withstand wind, snow, and other environmental loads while maintaining its integrity over many years.


6. Glass

Glass is by far the largest component by mass in solar panels and it accounts for more than 90% of the total weight. Glass is used in solar power systems to protect components offer structural strength to the module and encapsulate the cells. The glass helps in transmitting the solar light easily to the solar cells and it can be made to have an anti-reflective coating on one or both sides, making them useful for concentrating sunlight. Most solar panels have tempered glass which is generally tougher and stronger and as a result, they can bear the stress created by strong storm events and snow loads.


In conclusion, the raw materials used in PV panels are carefully selected to ensure the durability, efficiency, and performance of solar energy systems. The combination of semiconductor materials, conductive metals, encapsulants, glass, backsheets, and frames results in a reliable and sustainable energy solution. Understanding the manufacturing process helps us appreciate the complexity involved in producing these energy-efficient devices. Solar panels play a crucial role in harnessing renewable energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. As the demand for renewable energy continues to grow, advancements in raw materials and manufacturing processes will further enhance the capabilities of PV panels, making solar energy an increasingly viable option for a clean and sustainable future.


AE Solar offers a wide range of crystalline solar panels ranging from mono-facial to bifacial to half-cut panels. You can check out the range of products available on the website below. https://ae-solar.com/products-list/. Ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing solar panels as mentioned above the kind of panel to be used will depend upon the application itself.