Perovskite Solar

What are perovskite?

Perovskites are a class of materials that share a similar structure, which display a myriad of exciting properties like superconductivity, magnetoresistance and more. These easily synthesized materials are considered the future of solar cells, as their distinctive structure makes them perfect for enabling low-cost, efficient photovoltaics. They are also predicted to play a role in next-gen electric vehicle batteries, sensors, lasers and much more.

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How does the PV market look today?

In general, Photovoltaic (PV) technologies can be viewed as divided into two main categories: wafer-based PV (also called 1st generation PVs) and thin-film cell PVs. Traditional crystalline silicon (c-Si) cells (both single crystalline silicon and multi-crystalline silicon) and gallium arsenide (GaAs) cells belong to the wafer-based PVs, with c-Si cells dominating the current PV market (about 90% market share) and GaAs exhibiting the highest efficiency.

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Thin-film cells normally absorb light more efficiently than silicon, allowing the use of extremely thin films. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) technology has been successfully commercialized, with more than 20% cell efficiency and 17.5% module efficiency record and such cells currently hold about 5% of the total market. Other commercial thin-film technologies include hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) and copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) cells, taking approximately 2% market share each today. Copper zinc tin sulphide technology has been under R&D for years and will probably require some time until actual commercialization.

What is a perovskite solar cell?

An emerging thin-film PV class is being formed, also called 3rd generation PVs, which refers to PVs using technologies that have the potential to overcome current efficiency and performance limits or are based on novel materials. This 3rd generation of PVs includes DSSC, organic photovoltaic (OPV), quantum dot (QD) PV and perovskite PV.

A perovskite solar cell is a type of solar cell which includes a perovskite structured compound, most commonly a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material, as the light-harvesting active layer. Perovskite materials such as methylammonium lead halides are cheap to produce and relatively simple to manufacture. Perovskites possess intrinsic properties like broad absorption spectrum, fast charge separation, long transport distance of electrons and holes, long carrier separation lifetime, and more, that make them very promising materials for solid-state solar cells.

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Perovskite solar cells are, without a doubt, the rising star in the field of photovoltaics. They are causing excitement within the solar power industry with their ability to absorb light across almost all visible wavelengths, exceptional power conversion efficiencies already exceeding 20% in the lab, and relative ease of fabrication. Perovskite solar cells still face several challenge, but much work is put into facing them and some companies, are already talking about commercializing them in the near future.

What are the advantages of Perovskite solar cells?

Put simply, perovskite solar cells aim to increase the efficiency and lower the cost of solar energy. Perovskite PVs indeed hold promise for high efficiencies, as well as low potential material & reduced processing costs. A big advantage perovskite PVs have over conventional solar technology is that they can react to various different wavelengths of light, which lets them convert more of the sunlight that reaches them into electricity.

Moreover, they offer flexibility, semi-transparency, tailored form factors, light-weight and more. Naturally, electronics designers and researchers are certain that such characteristics will open up many more applications for solar cells.

What is holding perovskite PVs back?

Despite its great potential, perovskite solar cell technology is still in the early stages of commercialization compared with other mature solar technologies as there are a number of concerns remaining.

One problem is their overall cost (for several reasons, mainly since currently the most common electrode material in perovskite solar cells is gold), and another is that cheaper perovskite solar cells have a short lifespan. Perovskite PVs also deteriorate rapidly in the presence of moisture and the decay products attack metal electrodes. Heavy encapsulation to protect perovskite can add to the cell cost and weight. Scaling up is another issue - reported high efficiency ratings have been achieved using small cells, which is great for lab testing, but too small to be used in an actual solar panel.

A major issue is toxicity - a substance called PbI is one of the breakdown products of perovskite. This is known to be toxic and there are concerns that it may be carcinogenic (although this is still an unproven point). Also, many perovskite cells use lead, a massive pollutant. Researchers are constantly seeking substitutions, and have already made working cells using tin instead. (with efficiency at only 6%, but improvements will surely follow).

What’s next?

While major challenges indeed exist, perovskite solar cells are still touted as the PV technology of the future, and much development work and research are put into making this a reality. Scientists and companies are working towards increasing efficiency and stability, prolonging lifetime and replacing toxic materials with safer ones. Researchers are also looking at the benefits of combining perovskites with other technologies, like silicon for example, to create what is referred to as “tandem cells”.

Commercial activity in the field of perovskite PV

In September 2015, Australia-based organic PV and perovskite solar cell (PSC) developer Dyesol declared a major breakthrough in perovskite stability for solar applications. Dyesol claims to have made a significant breakthrough on small perovskite solar cells, with “meaningful numbers” of 10% efficient strip cells exhibiting less than 10% relative degradation when exposed to continuous light soaking for over 1000 hours. Dyesol was also awarded a $0.5 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to commercialize an innovative, very high efficiency perovskite solar cell.

Also in 2015, Saule Technologies signed an investment deal with Hideo Sawada, a Japanese investment company. Saule aims to combine perovskite solar cells with other currently available products, and this investment agreement came only a year after the company was launched.

In October 2020, Saule launched sunbreaker lamellas equipped with perovskite solar cells. The product is planned to soon be marketed across across Europe and potentially go global after that.

In August 2020, reports out of China suggested that a perovskite photovoltaic cell production line has gone into production in Quzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. The 40-hectare factory was reportedly funded by Microquanta Semiconductor and expected to produce more than 200,000 square meters of photovoltaic glass before the end of 2020.

In September 2020, Oxford PV's Professor Henry Snaith stated that the Company's perovskite-based solar cells are scheduled to go on sale next year, probably by mid 2021. These will be perovskite solar cells integrated with standard silicon solar cells.

 

The latest perovskite solar news:

Sunmaxx PVT and Oxford PV unveil world’s most efficient solar PVT module

Sunmaxx PVT, a German developer and manufacturer of photovoltaic-thermal solar modules, and Oxford PV, a producer of high-efficiency tandem solar cells, announced the launch of the “Solar Hammer" module. This partnership marks the first use of perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cells in a photovoltaic thermal module, enabling a very high conversion efficiency. Both the cells and the modules are produced in Germany.

Sunmaxx PVT’s modules combine proven thermal management technology from the automotive industry with photovoltaics, leading to a total conversion efficiency of 80%, certified by Fraunhofer ISE. Oxford PV’s perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cells have broken multiple records for conversion efficiency. In combination, these technologies enable more usable electricity and heat to be generated from the sun’s energy. The new module comes at a record efficiency of 26.6% electrical and 53.4% thermal efficiency, totaling 80% overall efficiency on aperture area level of 1.63 m2. The electrical power of the module with 6×10 M6 cells is 433 W, surpassing the previous record of Fraunhofer ISE.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 21,2024

Arizona State University researchers receives funding to promote standards for reliability of perovskite solar cell

An assistant professor at Arizona State University named Nick Rolston has received a 2024 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award to develop standards for perovskite solar panel reliability and longevity.

As silicon solar panels have been around for decades, standards to build high-quality panels are well established after years of research and testing. However, there are no such tests or standards for perovskite panels. As a family of materials with different properties than silicon, perovskites exhibit much different behavior. Many designs developed to date degrade quickly, dropping to 80% of their original efficiency — the standard for replacement — after a year or less.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 21,2024

LONGi announces new world record efficiency of 30.1% for commercial M6 size wafer-level silicon-perovskite tandem solar cells

LONGi Green Energy Technology has announced a new world record efficiency of 30.1% for a commercial M6 size wafer-level silicon-perovskite tandem solar cell at the 2024 Intersolar Europe event in Germany. This new record comes less than a week after LONGi announced a new world record of 34.6% tandem solar cell efficiency at the 2024 SNEC EXPO in Shanghai, and it also breaks the previous world record of 28.6% wafer-level tandem solar cell efficiency on M4 commercial size wafers in May 2023.

The commercial M6 size wafer-level silicon-perovskite tandem solar cell was independently certified by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy (Fraunhofer ISE) in Germany.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 20,2024

Oxford PV unveils residential solar module with record-setting 26.9% efficiency

Oxford PV has announced a record-setting 26.9% efficiency for its double-glass, 60-cell “residential sized” perovskite tandem module at the Intersolar Europe 2024 event. The module reportedly has a surface area of a little over 1.6 m square meters (1m x 1.7m) and weighs a little under 25 kg, “the ideal size for residential applications,” according to Oxford PV.

Oxford PV produces the proprietary high efficiency tandem solar cells at its manufacturing facility in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany, and uses both in-house and contract services for the module assembly.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 19,2024

Canon develops new materials for perovskite solar cells with improved durability and mass-production stability

Canon has announced that it has developed a high-performance material which is expected to improve the durability and mass-production stability of perovskite solar cells (PSCs). The Company aims to initiate mass production in 2025.

Canon stated that several issues are currently standing in the way of PSC commercialization. For one, the crystal structure of the perovskite layer (photoelectric conversion layer) is susceptible to the effects of water, heat, oxygen, etc. in the atmosphere, which results in low durability. Furthermore, it is difficult to achieve stable mass production when manufacturing perovskite solar cells with a large surface area. It has been recognized that a structure covering the perovskite layer is needed to solve these problems. Therefore, Canon developed a special functional material to coat the perovskite layer by applying the material technology it cultivated through the development of photosensitive members, a key component of multifunction office devices and laser printers.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 18,2024

Commercial perovskite solar modules by UtmoLight showcased at recent trade show

It was reported that China’s UtmoLight showcased its first full perovskite PV module at the recent SNEC PV event in Shanghai, underscoring the technology’s ongoing shift toward commercialization. The Module UL-M12-G1 measures 1,200 mm x 600 mm and is available in four power classes, ranging from 110 W to 130 W.

UtmoLight's President was quoted saying that the first target for the new perovskite modules will be building-integrated PV (BIPV) applications. Unlike crystalline modules, the translucent perovskite panels can be tinted in any color. UtmoLight offers modules strung into a single sheet of glass measuring 2.4 meters by 1.2 meters for building integration.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 18,2024

Energy America partners with German manufacturer to introduce perovskite solar cell technology to its product line

Energy America, an American solar module manufacturer, has announced a new partnership with a German manufacturing and R&D station to incorporate perovskite solar cell (PSC) technology into their product line. This move is expected to significantly increase the power and efficiency of Energy America's solar cells, while also promoting sustainable energy solutions.

By partnering with a German manufacturer and R&D station, Energy America is taking a step towards incorporating this cutting-edge technology into their product line. While the manufacturing and research for the perovskite solar cells will be done in Germany, Energy America has made it clear that all module design will be performed in America. 

Read the full story Posted: Jun 16,2024

Researchers develop method based on 2D perovskites to achieve durable, efficient formamidinium perovskite solar cells

Researchers at Rice University, along with researchers from several institutions in the U.S. and abroad, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; University of California, San Diego; University of Lille, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Centrale Lille Institut; University of Artois; Northwestern University; Purdue University; University of Rennes, INSA Rennes, CNRS, Institut FOTON; Brookhaven National Laboratory; University of Washington; and Northwestern University, have described a way to synthesize formamidinium lead iodide (FAPbI3) ⎯ the type of crystal currently used to make the highest-efficiency perovskite solar cells ⎯ into ultrastable, high-quality photovoltaic films. The overall efficiency of the resulting FAPbI3 solar cells decreased by less than 3% over more than 1,000 hours of operation at temperatures of 85 degrees Celsius (185 Fahrenheit).

“Right now, we think that this is state of the art in terms of stability,” said Rice engineer Aditya Mohite, whose lab has achieved various improvements in perovskites’ durability and performance over the past several years. “Perovskite solar cells have the potential to revolutionize energy production, but achieving long-duration stability has been a significant challenge.”

Read the full story Posted: Jun 16,2024

Researchers use n-Butanol to achieve efficient perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells in air

Researchers in China, led by Nanjing University, have designed a tandem perovskite-silicon solar cell with a top perovskite device based on an absorber treated with n-butanol (nBA), which reportedly reduces the detrimental effects of moisture in manufacturing processes carried out in air environment. The resulting PV device is said to have improved charge collection.

The nBA used by the team is a clear, colorless alcohol used as a cleaning agent in many industries, including electronics manufacturing. The team explained that it offers low polarity and saturation vapor pressure and ensures that the typical detrimental effects of moisture in perovskite cell fabrication in an ambient environment can be significantly reduced.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 13,2024

Swift Solar announces $27 million Series A funding round

Swift Solar has announced the close of its $27 million Series A financing round. The round was co-led by Eni Next and Fontinalis Partners. Also joining the round are new and existing investors including Stanford University, Good Growth Capital, BlueScopeX, HL Ventures, Toba Capital, Sid Sijbrandij, James Fickel, Adam Winkel, Fred Ehrsam, Jonathan Lin, and Climate Capital.

In total, Swift Solar has raised $44 million for its mission to transform the solar energy landscape with perovskite tandem solar products. Proceeds from this round will accelerate Swift Solar’s scaling of efficient and stable tandem technology as the Company prepares to break ground on its first factory. Swift Solar also plans to build a factory in the U.S. in the next two to three years to manufacture thin-film solar.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 12,2024