A calcium titanium oxide mineral named Perovskite, first discovered in 1980, is now, 34 years later, set to become one of the most promising base materials in the world for solar energy.
Solar panels composed of organic perovskite-structured semiconductors, have the same light absorption capabilities as silicon – solar’s current component – but can be produced in layers that are 200 times thinner.
Benefits of using Perovskite for solar cells
And, what makes Perovskite a very real challenger for silicon in solar, is the fact that it has an energy efficiency percentage of 19%, not that far behind conventional silicon at 25%.
Aside from the natural weight-saving, it also provides great flexibility, which in its turn means new industrial applications. Due to its properties, Perovskites can be turned into liquid paint form and applied to almost kind of device.
What that means is that ultimately all kinds of structures could be able to generate photovoltaic power, with Perovskites paint coated on large surfaces, where its lower energy efficiency can be counterbalanced by a more sun-exposed surface area. On a global scale the issue will then be no longer about engineering and performance, but also about architecture and design.
Enhanced performance for solar farms
Extending Perovskites’ light sensitivity by the optimization of its wavelength spectrum could indeed bring a near-to-market prototype, and a 2018 forecasted commercialization, as announced recently by Australian scientists.
Now, what does this technological breakthrough mean for renewable energy asset owners? Simply put, it is a great way to enhance performance of a plant, once owned. This new technology will enable every asset owner to optimize the profitability of their parks over 20 years.
For instance, consumption costs could be erased or production can be increased by “painting” the frames of existing PV panels, sub stations, or even blades in a wind farm. Self-consumption costs avoidance alone represent 2% of costs (ex-depreciation and interests) yearly.
The technology won’t be here overnight, and it will take a little more time after commercialization before the revolutionary effects of Perovskites are fully felt in renewable energy, but there is huge scope for existing owners and new developers to rapidly enhance the productivity and efficiency of their projects.