3 Breakthrough Integrative Solar Cell Technologies

3 Breakthrough Integrative Solar Cell Technologies

Energy CIO Insights | Saturday, December 26, 2020

Apart from innovative methods, cell technologies are also emerging maximum to help harvest maximum solar energy.

FREMONT, CA: Solar energy has emerged as a clean, sustainable, and potent alternative to fossil fuels. The sunlight coming to the earth is more than 10,000 times the globe’s total energy use, and technologies to harness as much solar energy as possible are increasing rapidly. With a rapidly growing market and the development of creative applications, R&D on innovative solar energy materials achieve maximum solar-to-electricity efficiency at a reduced cost. Here are some of the current innovations in solar cell technologies.

• Crystalline Silicon

Crystalline silicon is the most used semiconducting material in solar panels, consuming more than 90 percent of the global PV market, although the efficiency is under the theoretical limit. Solar cells made of low-cost and high-efficiency materials are emerging. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is fuelling the development of high-efficiency crystalline PVs, which comprises III-V multi-junction materials and hybrid tandem III-V/Si solar cells. Si-based bifacial technology can use solar energy from both sides of the panel, with 11 percent more efficient than standard panels.

• Thin Films

Second-generation thin-film solar cells are coming as the most promising PV technologies due to their narrow design, light weight, flexibility, and ease of installation. Usually, four types of materials are leveraged in their construction: cadmium-telluride (CdTe), amorphous silicon, copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS), and gallium-arsenide (GaAs). While CdTe has a toxicity issue due to the cadmium, the CIGS solar cells are turning out to be the promising high-efficiency and economical options for both residential and commercial installations, with efficiency up to 21 percent.

• Perovskite Solar Cells

Among the latest solar cells, hybrid metal halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have created a great amount of attention due to their reduced price, thinner design, low-temperature processing, and light absorption properties. PSCs must be flexible, lightweight, and semitransparent.  Perovskite thin films can also be printed, resulting in scalable high-throughput manufacturing. A present roll-to-roll printed PSC has reached 12.2 percent efficiency, the highest among printed PSCs.

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