Perovskite cells: A spark in solar innovation

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Perovskite cells: A spark in solar innovation

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Perovskite cells: A spark in solar innovation

Subheading text
Perovskite solar cells, pushing the boundaries of energy efficiency, are primed to change energy consumption.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • September 12, 2023

    Insight summary

    Harnessing the power of perovskite, a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to silicon, researchers have made substantial strides in solar cell technology, exceeding previous energy efficiency thresholds. From enhancing production speed to increasing durability, these breakthroughs promise a seismic shift in energy sectors, with far-reaching implications from individual households to large industries. As the technology matures, it is poised to disrupt traditional energy models, potentially driving a global shift towards clean, renewable energy, stimulating green economies, and reshaping our approach to energy consumption and production.

    Perovskite cells context

    Perovskite, a crystalline compound, presents a viable, sustainable, and cost-effective alternative to silicon in solar cells due to its transparency, flexibility, and compatibility with varied landscapes. A collaborative project by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, TU Eindhoven, and TU Delft successfully combined silicon and perovskite in a solar cell to exceed the 30 percent energy-efficiency threshold, outperforming pure silicon cells, which peaked at 29.4 percent. The efficacy of this composite solar cell is underpinned by the complementary light absorption properties of the two materials, with perovskite focusing on the green and blue spectrum and silicon on the red and infrared.

    Perovskite solar cells, already advantageous in terms of manufacturing ease, have witnessed further advances to enhance production speed and efficiency. Engineers at Dartmouth University significantly increased production speed, while Australia's ARC Center of Excellence in Exciton Science devised a streamlined process utilizing nanoparticle ink producible with microwaves. Enhancing durability, a slight adjustment discovered by a University of California Los Angeles scientist improved cell resilience, and Princeton researchers created a perovskite cell with a five-year lifetime, marking a fivefold increase in durability over previous versions.

    The durability of perovskite solar cell devices can be significantly enhanced by opting for metal oxides over organic components that are susceptible to air and moisture. Tin oxide, with its capability to facilitate efficient electron transport, is particularly suited for various solar cells and other optoelectronic applications.

    Disruptive impact

    As the cost-effectiveness and performance of these cells continue to improve, there may be widespread adoption of this technology across multiple domains, not just in traditionally solar-powered areas. These cells' transparent and flexible nature could translate into seamless integration into everyday items, such as windows and wearable technology, bringing decentralized, renewable energy sources into people's daily lives. For example, smart windows incorporated with perovskite solar cells could simultaneously shade interiors, provide insulation, and generate electricity, reducing reliance on the grid.

    These advancements in solar technology offer companies the potential to significantly decrease their carbon footprint and energy costs, presenting an attractive proposition for industries eager to demonstrate environmental responsibility and sustainability. Industries like construction, automotive, and electronics could integrate perovskite solar cells into their products, creating eco-friendly solutions. For example, an electronics company can design gadgets that self-charge under sunlight. This strategy would not only attract environmentally-conscious consumers but also pave the way for a new wave of innovative, energy-efficient products.

    From a governmental perspective, the rise of perovskite solar cells could accelerate the shift towards clean, renewable energy, providing an effective means to combat climate change. Governments might consider subsidies or tax incentives for producing and installing perovskite solar cells, stimulating a green economy and creating jobs in the renewable energy sector. For example, urban planners could implement this technology into public infrastructures like bus stops, street lights, and public buildings, making cities more energy-efficient and reducing public expenditure on energy. 

    Implications of perovskite cells

    Wider implications of perovskite cells may include: 

    • Increased energy autonomy for households, leading to more self-sufficient and resilient communities.
    • Development of new sectors and job opportunities in perovskite solar cell manufacturing and installation, contributing to economic growth and labor market diversification.
    • Emergence of sustainable, off-grid energy solutions for remote or underprivileged regions, democratizing access to electricity.
    • Promotion of energy-efficient practices among businesses, leading to a decrease in operational costs and fostering a competitive advantage in an increasingly eco-conscious market.
    • Facilitation of scientific research and innovation in adjacent fields due to advancements in perovskite technology, leading to potential breakthroughs in electronics, photonics, or thermoelectrics.
    • Mitigation of environmental damage through reduced reliance on non-renewable energy sources, aiding in biodiversity preservation and climate change management.
    • Displacement of traditional energy sector jobs as demand shifts towards renewable energy.
    • Inequality in access to this technology due to cost or infrastructure requirements.
    • Regulatory challenges as governments grapple with the oversight of a rapidly evolving energy sector, including safety standards, waste management, and grid integration issues.
    • Resource management issues due to the demand for raw materials in perovskite production, causing strain on specific mineral resources and creating geopolitical tensions over resource control.

    Questions to consider

    • If you work in engineering, what other materials might benefit solar cells?
    • If you have solar cells installed in your homes, what are the benefits and challenges?