Perovskite solar cells can make energy cheaper than water. Researchers have discovered that a material known for centuries can lower solar energy costs.
New types of solar cells are made of materials cheaper than silicon and can produce as much power as commercially available solar cells.
As the material's potential begins to be recognized, the world's leading solar researchers are turning their attention in this direction, and several companies have already rolled up their sleeves to commercialize the work.
Researchers say that with this technology, solar energy can reach a level that can compete with fossil fuels.
In the past, solar researchers were divided into two groups in their research on solar energy. Some researchers worked on how solar cells could be produced more cheaply. However, they could not prevent the decrease in efficiency, although the cost could decrease. Recently, many researchers have focused on developing very high-efficiency solar cells, even though they require more expensive manufacturing techniques.
With the new material, solar cells could be more efficient and cheaper.
Martin Green from the University of New South Wales, who is considered one of the best solar researchers in the world, said: "With the use of this material in solar cells, cells can be produced with a very cheap and simple technology, and the efficiency of the cells increases significantly."
Until recently, no one thought that perovskite, a mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, known for over a century, could be used in solar cells. This material is very effective at absorbing light. While conventional silicon solar panels use 180 micrometers of material, new types of solar cells use at least one micrometer less material to capture the same light.
This new material is cheaper than water, says Michael Grätzel, well-known in the solar industry and the developer of solar cells bearing his name. Grätzel's group has produced the most efficient perovskite solar cells ever produced.
To facilitate the movement of electrons throughout the cell, perovskite solar cells are manufactured by spreading pigments on a glass sheet or metal sheet.
When perovskite was first tested in solar cells in 2009, the efficiency was very low and only 3.5% of sunlight could be converted into electrical energy. And because the liquid electrolytes melted the perovskite, the cells didn't last very long. The researchers had little time to run tests before the cells failed. With the technical development, solid materials were used instead of liquid electrodes, and with the solution of existing problems in this way, researchers began to compete with each other to produce more efficient solar cells.
Henry Snaith, a physicist at the University of Oxford and also working with researchers on the Asian continent, is working to commercialize this new technology, called Oxford photovoltaics.
Perovskite panels, which are new to the highly competitive solar panel market, will not be easy to compete with silicon panels. The costs of silicon solar cells are falling, and analysts predict the cost will drop to as low as 25 cents per watt. Such a situation eliminates the cost advantages of perovskite and allows for new technology. It is expected that the production process of perovskite solar cells will be easy. However, in retrospect, the use of such new solar cell technologies takes place in at least ten years, and silicon solar cell technology may be too far to catch up until ten years later.
Martin Green says that instead of using perovskite solar cells instead of silicon solar cells, the amount of perovskite cells should be increased. According to Green, perovskite can be painted on traditional silicon cells to increase the efficiency of solar cells. This reduces the total cost per watt for solar cells. Entering the market with this method is completely much easier than entering the solar market by introducing a new product.
Source :energy institute