MemberSeptember 10, 2021 at 9:15 pm
Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have created next-generation solar modules with high efficiency and good stability. Made using a type of material called perovskites, these solar modules can maintain a high performance for over 2000 hours. Their findings, reported today (July 20, 2020) in leading journal, Nature Energy, have brightened prospects of commercialization.
Perovskites have the potential to revolutionize the solar technology industry. Flexible and lightweight, they promise more versatility than the heavy and rigid silicon-based cells currently dominating the market. But scientists must overcome some major hurdles before perovskites can be commercialized.
“There are three conditions that perovskites must meet: they must be cheap to produce, highly efficient and have a long lifespan,” said Professor Yabing Qi, head of the OIST Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit, who led this study.
The cost of making perovskite solar cells is low, as the cheap raw materials require little energy to process. And in just over a decade, scientists have made huge strides in improving how effectively perovskite solar cells convert sunlight to electricity, with efficiency levels now comparable to those of silicon-based cells.
However, once scaled up from tiny solar cells to larger solar modules, the efficiency levels of perovskites plummet. This is problematic as commercial solar technology needs to remain efficient at the size of solar panels, several feet in length.
“Scaling-up is very demanding; any defects in the material become more pronounced so you need high-quality materials and better fabrication techniques,” explained Dr. Luis Ono, a co-author of this study.
The instability of perovskites is another key issue under intense investigation. Commercial solar cells need to be able to withstand years of operation but currently perovskite solar cells degrade fast.