Researchers at Cornell University and University of Cambridge have analyzed the overall environmental impact of two types of solar panels, comparing these against panels made with crystalline silicon wafers – the current industry standard.
The team found that a solar panel made from two layers of perovskite requires a smaller total energy input and results in fewer carbon emissions. The panel, a perovskite-perovskite tandem, contains two layers of the material on top of each other, each optimized to absorb a section of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The team examined the carbon footprint and environmental impact of each solar panel over its lifespan, as well as how much time it would take for a panel to generate the amount of energy required to produce it – a measure known as energy payback time.
The silicon panels had an average energy payback time of 1.52 years, while the time for perovskite-perovskite tandem panels is only 0.35 years.
The group also calculated that in its lifespan, the perovskite tandem cell has an associated emission of about 10.69 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour of electricity it generates, which is only 43.4% of the emissions for silicon solar panels.
Another advantage of the perovskite tandem cells is that they are flexible, so could be installed on a variety of surfaces, such as on cars or bicycles, says the research team. “Perovskite tandems are most likely going to be cheaper than silicon, particularly in future as production increases and benefits from economies of scale".