A (Relatively) Gigantic Perovskite Solar Cell Breakthrough

[Editor’s Note: Solar power from can be achieved a number of ways. The typical solar panel is manufactured from silicone-based crystals mounted on a wafer, wired, covered with glass and embedded in a frame. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to get electricity from the Sun.

Indeed for large (utility-scale) purchases, a silicone-based solar panel can cost less than $10.00 each. Silocone-based panels can range up to 22% conversion efficiency (depending on the manufacturer and the manufacturing date — newer panel designs are more efficient) which means that of all the sunlight hitting them they can convert up to 22% of the light into electricity.

Other materials can produce electricity from the Sun however, and with much higher efficiency rates. Such panels are expensive, as exotic materials like cadmium-telluride don’t come cheap and are toxic if released into the environment. For now, these materials are largely experimental.

A new way to produce electricity using solar photovoltaic (PV) cells comes to us courtesy of Perovskite Solar Cell technology which looks to be a game-changer, although it’s still in the development stages.

Oxford University has it’s own very successful perovskite program, and Brown University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have recently teamed-up in America to turn perovskite solar cells into an affordable reality.

One unique feature of the perovskite solar cell is the potential to be used as a ‘paint’ to cover buildings and cars thereby harvest energy from all surfaces that face the Sun.

While painting buildings and cars with perovskites is a separate field and in very early development, it looks as though perovskites will have a significant and positive impact on the conventional solar panel industry.

Renewable energy journalist extraordinaire Tina Casey describes the latest perovskite news. — Ed.]

We’ve been spilling a lot of ink over perovskite solar cells recently, and here comes Brown University with yet another breakthrough. Along with researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Brown team has figured out a way to grow larger perovskite solar cells while keeping the conversion efficiency at a fairly high level. (h/t James…

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John Brian

Editorial Board at kleef&co. Published by the UNDP.