Sunday, January 11, 2015

Solar power needs more efficient materials than silicon

Solar power industry is the fastest growing industry in the whole world but solar is yet far away from fulfilling its destiny in becoming a world's primary source of energy. One of the reasons why solar power still finds it hard to replace fossil fuels is the solar panel efficiency.

Silicon is material predominantly used in solar panel production. Today's solar panels made out of silicon can achieve maximum efficiency of around 24% which means that majority of sunlight gets wasted and is turned into a heat instead of electricity.

The researchers are in constant search of new materials that could replace silicon. The latest interesting Bloomberg study claims that this new material could be perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide mineral composed of calcium titanate, that is found in Earth's mantle.

The experimental solar cells made from perovskite are already nearing the level of those made out of the silicon. Considering that this is an experimental technology the rate of progress in the lab has been astonishing.

The experimental solar cells made from perovskite were able to convert more than 20 percent of sunlight into power and the potential is enormous. In fact, researchers already believe that using perovskite in hybrid solar cell should result in efficiency of more than 40%.

The perovskite solar cells could be produced by using a printing process and researchers claim that the cost of manufacturing process could be reduced to below a third of silicon-based cells.

Solar cells made out of perovskite can absorb the spectrum of light that silicon-based cells can't reach, meaning that a hybrid cell could convert close to 30 percent of sunlight into electricity.