Perovskite: The Next Frontier in Solar Energy Efficiency
You probably don’t need anyone to remind you of just how important it is for us as inhabitants of planet earth to take care of our planet, with a large part of it being through responsible use of the planet’s resources and minimizing our pollution rates. One of the biggest efforts towards achieving a sustainable planet has been the development and encouragement of solar energy solutions to break our reliance on pollution-heavy fossil fuels.
While our efforts have been intensive and persistent, we’ve been fighting an uphill battle when it comes to the widespread adoption of solar energy solutions, mainly because the cost and efficiency of said solutions hasn’t made it quite worthwhile. All this looks set for a radical change, however, with latest research into a class of materials known as perovskites promising rapid advancements.
The Perovskite Promise
According to one of the forefront researchers into this exceptional new material, perovskite looks set to be at the forefront of the drive to make solar energy a truly viable and globally-adopted clean energy solution.
What perovskite basically does is make it possible for us to harvest the sun’s energy from practically any surface that’s put in the sun’s path. The world of environmental conservation and the scientific community at large, to say nothing of those who hold solar stocks in their portfolios, is incredibly excited at the prospects offered here.
How It Works
In simple terms, what makes this material such a step up from the traditional solar cells that have made up our solar panels to date is the fact that the material can simply be painted or sprayed onto the surface of your choice, from where it will go on to absorb the sun’s energy. The solar cells created using perovskite are so easy to produce that they may even be rolled out of a press – similar to how newspapers are rolled out.
The possibilities for the deployment of such a product are virtually limitless. We will no longer be limited to placing the relatively unwieldy solar panel arrays we have come to be familiar with at the top of our buildings or out in the desert, we could have our cars, buildings, roads, or eve n planes clad in the material, massively offsetting our reliance on established power grids.
Of course, the question on your mind will be – how does it compare to silicon as a solar panel material when it comes to efficiency? Will a square foot of perovskite paneling absorb more energy than a similar silicone setup? Researchers are of the opinion that perovskite comes out the winner in this comparison.
Silicon panels have an efficiency rating of 20%, while perovskite has been tested with a resulting efficiency score of 22.7%. Note that this isn’t a definite upper limit on its possible performance potential. The fact that it has only recently been singled out as an alternative to silicon means that research is still ongoing into ways of optimizing its performance. In due time, as research efforts push its limits, its peak performance figures might turn out to be way more impressive than the already outstanding performance we’ve noted so far. As a matter of fact, theoretical extrapolation of the material’s capabilities projects an upper performance level of 40% efficiency, which would be a world-shaking level of performance.
Perovskite in Our Lives
Our experience in the field of solar energy production has made us accustomed to a rather frustrating trade-off- we could either have flexibility when it came to our solar panels, or we could have performance – not both. Perovskite does away with this constraining limitation by giving us both.
Is there any downside to perovskite? Well, so far it beats out silicon solar panels on virtually every metric tested, but there are still unknown performance areas to be explored. Top on this list is longevity. We know pretty well just how long we can reasonably expect a silicon solar panel to last, but we can’t say the same for perovskite. We simply don’t yet know how long they can stick it out in real world conditions.
Perovskite is being intensively researched in laboratories around the world, with scientists all seeking ways to make it a viable entrant onto the global marketplace.