Sign In/Register
Power and Utility General Manufacturing

State of the Industry: Solar Energy Manufacturing

By OTC Insights Team on February 14, 2023

Stay in the Know with the Latest News

Back to main Blog
OTC Insights Team

Established in 1963, OTC Industrial Technologies is one of the largest industrial distributors & service providers in the United States. We're committed to seeing industrial operations advance through expert technical solutions & unmatched support using our years of experience.

The popularity of solar energy has been steadily growing in recent years. With increasing consumer demand and government grants available, working in this industry can provide lucrative opportunities.  

Meeting that demand means manufacturers must adapt their processes to deliver quality units at an even greater pace. Let’s look at what that means and what’s required for a successful production.  

What Are the Characteristics of Solar Energy and Solar Panel Fabrication? 

Solar energy products are always improving, but the basic fabrication process has remained consistent. These are the basic steps for creating a solar panel: 

  • Refining silicon: Silicon is the most essential component of modern solar panels. Refining silicon requires blasting sand in large furnaces to refine this essential element. 
  • Forming silicon ingots: After extracting silicon from sand, the next step in the manufacturing process is to form it into ingots. These ingots serve as the basic building blocks for solar panels. 
  • Creating silicon wafers: Slicing the ingots into wafer-thin pieces prepares the material for the next stage. It’s essential to coat the disks with an anti-reflective coating to ensure the cells can absorb the maximum sunlight. 
  • Fabricating solar cells: Before moving to the final stage, manufacturers add conductive material to each silicon wafer. This material converts sunlight into energy and enables the transfer of energy.  
  • Producing solar panels: Once the individual cells are complete, the final step is to combine them into panels. The industry standard sizes are 48, 60, and 72 cell panels, with smaller panels ideal for residential environments and bigger sizes designed for large facilities.  

Priorities in Solar Panel Manufacturing 

Don't Miss Your Chance - Register Your Account Today! Discover exclusive customer benefits and easy ecomerce shopping. Register now.

Solar panel manufacturing has come a long way since its inception 70+ years ago.  

While the first generation of solar cells provided about 4% efficiency, modern manufacturing processes provide 15% to 23% efficiency. This drastic improvement in quality requires manufacturers to maintain clean, efficient facilities and leverage modern automation and finishing tools 

Here are the key priorities in solar panel manufacturing: 

Efficient Refining Processes 

Manufacturing facilities refine silicon from common sand, a relatively inexpensive material. However, converting this resource into usable silicon can be difficult and expensive. To improve their bottom line, manufacturers constantly look for more efficient ways to produce this silicon. 

Maintaining Sterile Facilities 

Increasing the efficiency of solar cells requires manufacturers to maintain sterile, controlled environments. Reducing the number of potential contaminants in a manufacturing facility leads to more consistent products and reduced waste. To achieve this goal, companies use compressor and pump systems to provide dry, clean air throughout the process. 

Utilizing Automation Tools 

The potential labor costs of producing solar panels are significant. To reduce these costs and improve their bottom line, businesses leverage a variety of automation tools. By automating processes where possible, manufacturers will reduce labor costs and ensure safer and more efficient production. Additionally, automated processes provide the consistency necessary for manufacturing thousands of cells. Manufacturers are already using automation — however, it is important to continue to update the facility with the latest tools to further increase efficiency and consistency, especially as new technology is introduced. 

Energy-efficient Manufacturing 

Significant energy is required to transform raw materials into a finished solar panel. For an industry that specializes in creating energy-efficient products, it’s important to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. Accomplishing this goal requires companies to maintain and upgrade their equipment. To reduce labor issues and ensure the most effective maintenance plan for your facility, utilize outside expert resources like OTC Industrial Technologies for consultation and maintenance support. We can provide the equipment and services that keep solar manufacturing processes running smoothly. 

OTC and Solar Manufacturing 

Your manufacturing operation deserves the best equipment and services. OTC has the resources, products, and expertise you need to take your business to the next level.  

Whether you’re looking to develop a new facility or improve your existing operation, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.