In a photovoltaic/thermal combi-panel solar cells generate electricity while residual heat is extracted to be used for tap water heating or room heating. In such a panel the entire solar spectrum can be used in principle. Unfortunately long wavelength solar irradiance is poorly absorbed by the semiconductor material in standard solar cells. A computer model was developed to determine the thermal absorption factor of crystalline silicon solar cells. It was found that for a standard untextured solar cell with a silver back contact a relatively large amount of long wavelength irradiance is lost by reflection resulting in an absorption factor of only 74%. The model was then used to investigate ways to increase this absorption factor. One way is absorbing long wavelength irradiance in a second absorber behind a semi-transparent solar cell. According to the model this will increase the total absorption factor to 87%. The second way is to absorb irradiance in the back contact of the solar cell by using rough interfaces in combination with a non-standard metal as back contact. Theoretically the absorption factor can then be increased to 85%.
Santbergen, R., & Zolingen, van, R. J. C. (2006). Modeling the thermal absorption factor of photovoltaic/thermal combi-panels. Energy Conversion and Management, 47(20), 3572-3581. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enconman.2006.01.014