One of the hindrances of solar cells is their cost-to-power ratio where in most cases the cost of an effective solar panel simply is expensive compared to the power that is generated. While there are many efforts to increase the power generation of solar panels, other efforts are being made to reduce their overall costs.
One of the most interesting efforts is the development of spray-on solar cells that cost a fraction compared to solar panels, but cover a very wide area for maximum solar absorption. This new technology promises an incredible amount of potential for a relatively low cost.
Developed at the University of Sheffield by a team of scientists, this effort creates what’s known as perovskite solar cells which is a new material that holds a great deal of promise in the solar industry. This is because it overcomes one of the potential stumbling blocks of the otherwise high cost of creating solar panels.
How Perovskite Works in Harnessing the Sun
For years, scientists have been looking for a means of spray painting to create solar cells that use semiconductors of organic origins. Perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide mineral, represents a real breakthrough in creating a more efficient form that can be widely used.
First demonstrated in 2012, the perovskite proved to create efficient photovoltaics which are needed to capture and transmit solar power. The spray painting process works quite well because little of the material is actually wasted and it can be scaled for high volume manufacturing in a similar way to applying paints to graphic arts or to vehicles.
The interest in perovskite has been growing considerably since it was first demonstrated as it is very cheap to produce, yet it can be applied to a wide number of applications. This is because most solar cells use silicon which takes a great deal of energy to produce. Perovskites on the other hand take very little energy to create.
The Future of Spray-on Solar Cells
Where this form of spray-on solar cell will have its maximum impact is in the amount of energy that is created using a cheap form of materials. While perovskite is not quite as efficient in terms of energy conversion as silicon, the substantially lower cost of the materials has made it one that has generated a lot of interest from manufacturers.
Currently, perovskite generates about 19 percent conversion compared to silicon which is 25 percent in terms of absorbing and converting solar energy. Perovskite replaces the organic cells that were used as part of the light absorbing layer which previous versions were only about 10 percent in terms of absorption. Perovskite is not only more efficient, it is very cheap and will no doubt start replacing the organic light absorbing layers.
There is still work to be done in getting perovskite to becoming even more efficient, but the fact that it does cost significantly less than previous organic versions and is easy to apply is causing the solar industry to rethink how it creates panels for energy absorption. As a renewable energy source, perovskite is helping to overcome one of the main issues that have kept solar panels relegated to a supplemental source.