Journal of NanophotonicsWhy silicon is and will remain the dominant photovoltaic material
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Rising demands of energy in emerging economies, coupled with the green house gas emissions related problems around the globe have provided a unique opportunity of exploiting the advantages offered by photovoltaic (PV) systems for green energy electricity generation. Similar to cell phones, power generated by PV systems can reach over two billion people worldwide who have no access to clean energy. Only silicon based PV devices meet the low-cost manufacturing criterion of clean energy conversion (abundance of raw material and no environmental health and safety issues). The use of larger size glass substrates and manufacturing techniques similar to the ones used by the liquid crystal display industry and the large scale manufacturing of amorphous silicon thin films based modules (~ GW per year manufacturing at a single location) can lead to installed PV system cost of $3/Wp. This will open a huge market for grid connected PV systems and related markets. With further research and development, this approach can provide $2/Wp installed PV system costs in the next few years. At this cost level, PV electricity generation is competitive with any other technology, and PV power generation can be a dominant electricity generation technology in the 21st century.