A recent breakthrough regarding the overall efficiency of using silicone solar cells for power generation may change the game when it comes to a global shift to renewables.
Teams in Germany and Switzerland hit upon the use of a secondary semiconductor material called perovskite in tandem with silicon. In both cases, a layer of perovskite is laid over one of silicone to increase the amount of light absorbed by the panel.
While this isn’t exactly a new discovery as the combined use of silicone and perovskite has been studied over the past decade, a new way of using these materials together allows solar cells to absorb more radiant energy.
In turn, greater power absorption will lead to lower generation costs and the more rapid deployment of solar power solutions.
Who Made the Breakthrough?
Researchers at the Helmholtz Center Berlin for Materials and Energy announced last month that they achieved a total efficiency rate of 32.5% with the use of hybrid silicone-perovskite cells.
Meanwhile, their Swiss counterparts at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne achieved 31.25%. The Lausanne team also pointed out that the use of such tandem cells could lead to higher generation efficiency partnered with significantly lower manufacturing costs.
A Long Way to Go
For Professor Stefaan De Wolf of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, breaking through the critical 30% threshold serves as proof that such technologies can be brought to the global market at a most reasonable cost.
However, to be truly able to mitigate the impact of climate change, the solar power sector still has a long way to go. Aside from finding ways to further spread the use of solar solutions into the global mainstream, the sector needs to increase its total generation capacity to around 75 terrawatts by 2050.