Perovskite Solar Cells Market Insights 2023 By Product Types, Application, and Major Key Players are covered in this 104 Pages Report By 360 Research Reports
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May 15, 2023 (The Expresswire).- 360 Research Reports has published a new report titled as Perovskite Solar Cells Market by End User (BIPV, Power Station, Defense and Aerospace, Transportation and Mobility, Consumer Electronics), Types (Rigid Module, Flexible Module), Region and Global Forecast to 2023-2030. Executive Data Report. This Exclusive Data Report also presents qualitative and quantitative perspectives on SWOT and PESTLE analysis based on geographical regions and industry segments.
Who is the largest manufacturers of Perovskite Solar Cells Market Worldwide?
Oxford PV GCL Suzhou Nanotechnology Co., Ltd Hubei Wonder Solar Microquanta Semiconductor Heiking PV Technology Co., Ltd. Swift Solar Li Yuan New Energy Technology Co. Hunt Perovskite Technologies (HPT) Greatcell Energy Saule Technologies
Short Description About Perovskite Solar Cells Market:
The Global Perovskite Solar Cells market is anticipated to rise at a considerable rate during the forecast period, between 2022 and 2030. In 2021, the market is growing at a steady rate and with the rising adoption of strategies by key players, the market is expected to rise over the projected horizon.
A perovskite solar cell is a type of solar cell which includes a perovskite structured compound, most commonly a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material, as the light-harvesting active layer. Perovskite materials such as methylammonium lead halides are cheap to produce and simple to manufacture.
Market Analysis and Insights: Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global Perovskite Solar Cells market size is estimated to be worth USD 492.1 million in 2021 and is forecast to a readjusted size of USD 5476.2 million by 2028 with a CAGR of 40.6Percent during the forecast period 2022-2028.
The world’s major manufacturers of perovskite Solar cells include Oxford PV, GCL Suzhou Nanotechnology Co., Ltd, Hubei Wonder Solar, Microquanta Semiconductor, Heiking PV Technology Co., Ltd., Swift Solar and Li Yuan New Energy Technology Co., etc.
Global Perovskite Solar Cells Scope and Market Size
The global Perovskite Solar Cells market is segmented by region (country), company, by Type and by Application. Players, stakeholders, and other participants in the global Perovskite Solar Cells market will be able to gain the upper hand as they use the report as a powerful resource. The segmental analysis focuses on sales, revenue and forecast by region (country), by Type and by Application for the period 2017-2028.
What are the factors driving the growth of the Perovskite Solar Cells Market?
Growing demand for below applications around the world has had a direct impact on the growth of the Perovskite Solar Cells
BIPV Power Station Defense and Aerospace Transportation and Mobility Consumer Electronics
What are the types of Perovskite Solar Cells available in the Market?
Based on Product Types the Market is categorized into Below types that held the largest Perovskite Solar Cells market share In 2022.
Rigid Module Flexible Module
Which regions are leading the Perovskite Solar Cells Market?
Europe (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Russia and Turkey etc.)
Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam)
South America (Brazil, Argentina, Columbia etc.)
Middle East and Africa (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa)
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This Perovskite Solar Cells Market Research/Analysis Report Contains Answers to your following Questions
What are the global trends in the Perovskite Solar Cells market? Would the market witness an increase or decline in the demand in the coming years?
What is the estimated demand for different types of products in Perovskite Solar Cells? What are the upcoming industry applications and trends for Perovskite Solar Cells market?
What Are Projections of Global Perovskite Solar Cells Industry Considering Capacity, Production and Production Value? What Will Be the Estimation of Cost and Profit? What Will Be Market Share, Supply and Consumption? What about Import and Export?
Where will the strategic developments take the industry in the mid to long-term?
What are the factors contributing to the final price of Perovskite Solar Cells? What are the raw materials used for Perovskite Solar Cells manufacturing?
How big is the opportunity for the Perovskite Solar Cells market? How will the increasing adoption of Perovskite Solar Cells for mining impact the growth rate of the overall market?
How much is the global Perovskite Solar Cells market worth? What was the value of the market In 2020?
Who are the major players operating in the Perovskite Solar Cells market? Which companies are the front runners?
Which are the recent industry trends that can be implemented to generate additional revenue streams?
What Should Be Entry Strategies, Countermeasures to Economic Impact, and Marketing Channels for Perovskite Solar Cells Industry?
Perovskite Solar Cells Market. Covid-19 Impact and Recovery Analysis:
We were monitoring the direct impact of covid-19 in this market, further to the indirect impact from different industries. This document analyzes the effect of the pandemic on the Perovskite Solar Cells market from a international and nearby angle. The document outlines the marketplace size, marketplace traits, and market increase for Perovskite Solar Cells industry, categorised with the aid of using kind, utility, and patron sector. Further, it provides a complete evaluation of additives concerned in marketplace improvement in advance than and after the covid-19 pandemic. Report moreover done a pestel evaluation within the business enterprise to study key influencers and boundaries to entry.
Our studies analysts will assist you to get custom designed info to your report, which may be changed in phrases of a particular region, utility or any statistical info. In addition, we’re constantly inclined to conform with the study, which triangulated together along with your very own statistics to make the marketplace studies extra complete for your perspective.
Final Report will add the analysis of the impact of Russia-Ukraine War and COVID-19 on this Perovskite Solar Cells Industry.
Detailed TOC of Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market Research Report, 2023-2030
1 Market Overview1.1 Product Overview and Scope of Perovskite Solar Cells1.2 Classification of Perovskite Solar Cells by Type1.2.1 Overview: Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market Size by Type: 2017 Versus 2021 Versus 20301.2.2 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Revenue Market Share by Type in 20211.3 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market by Application1.3.1 Overview: Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market Size by Application: 2017 Versus 2021 Versus 20301.4 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market Size and Forecast1.5 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market Size and Forecast by Region1.6 Market Drivers, Restraints and Trends1.6.1 Perovskite Solar Cells Market Drivers1.6.2 Perovskite Solar Cells Market Restraints1.6.3 Perovskite Solar Cells Trends Analysis
2 Company Profiles2.1 Company2.1.1 Company Details2.1.2 Company Major Business2.1.3 Company Perovskite Solar Cells Product and Solutions2.1.4 Company Perovskite Solar Cells Revenue, Gross Margin and Market Share (2019, 2020, 2021 and 2023)2.1.5 Company Recent Developments and Future Plans
3 Market Competition, by Players3.1 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Revenue and Share by Players (2019,2020,2021, and 2023)3.2 Market Concentration Rate3.2.1 Top3 Perovskite Solar Cells Players Market Share in 20213.2.2 Top 10 Perovskite Solar Cells Players Market Share in 20213.2.3 Market Competition Trend3.3 Perovskite Solar Cells Players Head Office, Products and Services Provided3.4 Perovskite Solar Cells Mergers and Acquisitions3.5 Perovskite Solar Cells New Entrants and Expansion Plans
4 Market Size Segment by Type4.1 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Revenue and Market Share by Type (2017-2023)4.2 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market Forecast by Type (2023-2030)
5 Market Size Segment by Application5.1 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Revenue Market Share by Application (2017-2023)5.2 Global Perovskite Solar Cells Market Forecast by Application (2023-2030)
6 Regions by Country, by Type, and by Application6.1 Perovskite Solar Cells Revenue by Type (2017-2030)6.2 Perovskite Solar Cells Revenue by Application (2017-2030)6.3 Perovskite Solar Cells Market Size by Country6.3.1 Perovskite Solar Cells Revenue by Country (2017-2030)6.3.2 United States Perovskite Solar Cells Market Size and Forecast (2017-2030)6.3.3 Canada Perovskite Solar Cells Market Size and Forecast (2017-2030)6.3.4 Mexico Perovskite Solar Cells Market Size and Forecast (2017-2030)
7 Research Findings and Conclusion
8 Appendix8.1 Methodology8.2 Research Process and Datsource8.3 Disclaimer
9 Research Methodology
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Perovskite solar cells: why they’re the future of solar power
At the leading edge of scientific discovery and renewable energy research, a class of materials called perovskites has excited the imaginations of some of the world’s top scientists and engineers.
These incredible materials have the ability to generate more electricity from the sun than almost anything else, potentially at a much lower cost than traditional silicon solar cells. But perovskites have so far required a lot of testing and trial-and-error, and no single application has reached the point of commercialization. The study of perovskite solar cells has come a long way in a very short time, but there are some big hurdles to overcome.
Because of the work of many dedicated researchers, some perovskite products may be coming to the market within the next year or two, so it’s important to learn about them now. Unfortunately, most of the information about perovskites on the web is directed at the researchers and scientists who study and work with these materials, and that stuff is necessarily pretty dense and technical.
What follows below is our attempt to cover perovskite materials in detail, but without a lot of the technical jargon and hard-to-understand concepts of a scholarly journal article. Someday soon, you may be able to have perovskite solar panels installed on your roof, so it’s time to learn about these exciting materials and what they might mean for rooftop solar in the very near future.
What is a perovskite?
Perovskites are a class of materials with a distinctive crystal structure similar to a mineral of the same name first discovered in Russia in 1839. Many varieties of perovskites exist, but the most interesting of these for the solar industry are crystals built out of organic and inorganic molecules connected to atoms of lead or tin.
The structure of one perovskite material used in solar cells. Image source: Science Advances
The image above is a representation of the structure of one kind of lead halide perovskite crystal. It has a grid of 8-sided molecules called lead halides (an atom of lead connected to 6 halogen atoms of either iodine, chlorine, or bromine), surrounding a smaller molecule called a methylammonium cation (we promise this is as science-y as this article gets).
Why perovskites are important
Perovskites are exciting for several reasons, but the reason we’re going to talk about relates to the photovoltaic effect, which means “energy from light.”
The tin or lead present in these materials are good for making solar cells in the same way silicon is used for making solar cells. Atoms of these elements are ideal for forming molecules with other atoms that are semiconductor materials, whose electrons can be excited by light energy and directed along a wire to produce electricity.
Unlike silicon crystals, perovskite crystals are pretty easy to make under fairly ordinary conditions. Silicon must first be heated to extremely high temperatures to produce material with the right purity and crystal structure to make electricity; perovskites can be created by mixing chemicals in solution and coating a surface with that solution. The process is a bit more complicated than we’re letting on, but for the most part, producing the perovskite solar cells of the future will likely be significantly cheaper and easier than making silicon cells.
Perovskites are also important because their ability to make electricity can be “tuned” by controlling the kinds of molecules that are produced in the manufacturing process. This tuning results in materials with the ideal “bandgap,” which is the amount of energy needed to push an electron to a higher energy level so it can carry an electrical charge across a circuit.
Perovskites, efficiency, and the bandgap
Every atom in the universe has one or more electrons floating around its nucleus, and the negatively-charged electrons are attracted to the positively-charged nucleus. Molecules made up of many atoms form based on the number of electrons each atom has, and the shared electrons float around the molecule. The outermost electrons are said to be in the “valence Band” of the atoms they orbit.
Solar electricity is generated when photons of light “bump” the outermost electrons of a semiconductor material to a higher energy state, thereby pushing them out of the valence Band and into the “conduction Band” of the molecule. The minimum amount of energy needed to push an electron from the valence Band to the conduction Band is called the bandgap.
When an electron is pushed into the conduction Band, it is no longer stuck in the orbit of the molecule; instead, it becomes a charge carrier that can move through the material it’s part of, carrying electrical energy that we can use.
How sunlight causes electrons to become charge carriers in a solar cell.
Photons of different colors of light carry different amounts of energy, measured by units called “electronvolts” (eV). Photons of visible light have energies of between 1.75 eV (deep red) and 3.1 eV (violet). An ideal photovoltaic material has a bandgap of 1.34 eV, because that’s the point at which the maximum amount of visible light will convert electrons to charge carriers.
There’s a concept in solar related to the bandgap called Power Conversion Efficiency, or PCE, which is the amount of solar energy that can be converted to electricity by a solar cell. A solar cell that uses a single connection (more commonly called a junction) between layers of positive and negatively-charged materials with the ideal bandgap can convert 33.7% of all incoming light to electricity. This ideal efficiency is called the Shockley–Queisser limit, named after the physicists who discovered it.
Perovskites can be tuned to various bandgaps within a wide range, while other materials only have one.
The trouble with the Shockley–Queisser limit is that no single material we know of has the perfect bandgap to reach it.
Silicon solar cells have a theoretical bandgap of about 1.2 eV, meaning they have a maximum PCE of around 32%. The best perovskite materials can reach about 31%, but there are reasons why it might be better to use a perovskite material with a higher or lower bandgap, even though it wouldn’t be ideal for use by itself. That brings us back to the concept of “tuning the bandgap,” as we discussed above.
By controlling the chemical makeup of a perovskite crystal, materials scientists can manufacture perovskite materials to have a bandgap very close to ideal for converting light to electricity, but they can also create multi-layered perovskite solar cells in which each layer has a different bandgap. Having multiple layers means high-energy photons excite electrons in layers with a wider bandgap, and low-energy photons excite electrons in layers with a narrower bandgap. In this way, more of the total solar energy gets converted into electricity.
This technology has shown great progress in recent years, and multi-junction cells made up of perovskite layers of varying bandgaps have already reached a conversion efficiency of 26%, despite having been researched since just 2013. over, a tuned layer of perovskite can be added in a “tandem cell” arrangement with a traditional silicon cell to capture photons the silicon can’t convert, thereby increasing power conversion efficiency.
The structure of perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell (on the left) and perovskite-perovskite tandem solar cell (on the right). Image source: Science Advances
Some day, combining perovskite solar technology with the best of silicon-based tech might be the key to unlocking solar cells that can turn 50% of sunlight into electricity. That would be huge, considering that Maxeon currently has the highest efficiency rating on the market with their solar panels converting 22.8% of electricity into usable power.
The key takeaway of the above is this: perovskite cell efficiency might never be as good as the best silicon solar cells, but it will be good enough at a low-enough cost that the amount of electricity they produce per dollar spent on them will be much, much lower than silicon-based photovoltaic products.
The promise of perovskite solar cells can’t be understated. The reductions in cost they might provide is so exciting that the U.S. federal government has invested millions of dollars in perovskite research through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In 2020, 20 million in funding was available for perovskite research, spread among initiatives to develop cell technology, manufacturing best practices, and cell testing procedures.
How are perovskite solar cells made?
We’re going to keep this simple, because it isn’t necessary to know all the chemistry that goes into creating these things to understand how they work. Basically, perovskites can be created using “wet chemistry” in which materials like methylammonium lead iodide, methylammonium halide, and other additives are mixed together in a solution. The mixture is then deposited on a substrate like glass, metal oxide, flexible polymers, a silicon solar cell, or even transparent wood (wow!).
The deposition of the perovskite solution is usually done via spin-coating, which is kind of the same concept as the Spin-Art machines children use to make splotchy paintings on thick paper. The solution is dripped or sprayed onto the substrate, which is then spun at a high enough speed to spread a thin layer of the solution across its surface. When the solvents in the mixture evaporate, they leave behind perovskite films; thin layers of perovskite crystals ready to be wired into a solar cell.
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Different types of perovskite solar cells
All solar cells, no matter what they’re made of, have certain things in common.
They must all have at least one negative layer and one positive layer of photovoltaic material; and they must have conductive front and back electrodes to carry the sun-charged electrons from the negative layer along a wire to produce electricity before returning them to the positive layer. Once mounted in a solar module, the cells are sealed in an encapsulation layer to protect them against damage from weather.
There are essentially two different types of perovskite solar cells: thin-film cells with perovskite as the only photovoltaic material, and tandem cells, which have either multiple layers of perovskite or a thin perovskite layer on top of traditional crystalline silicon.
To complicate matters a little, there are also thin-film tandem cells with a perovskite layer on top of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), which is an already-perfected thin-film solar technology.
Thin-film vs tandem solar cell structure. Image source: U.S. DOE
Pros and cons of perovskites
As we discussed above, perovskites are exciting because they convert solar energy into electricity nearly as well as silicon, but can potentially be manufactured much more cheaply. Unfortunately, there are downsides to perovskites, as well.
- Relatively easy to manufacture and deposit onto a surface using low-cost processes
- Potential for high power conversion efficiency
- Tunable bandgap, meaning it can be manufactured to be almost ideal for solar energy generation
- Production requires 20 times less material than silicon cells, and doesn’t use rare earth metals
- Manufacturing process is much less energy intensive than that of traditional solar cells
- Perovskites break down over time when exposed to moisture, light, heat and oxygen, meaning there needs to be additional technologies developed to stabilize the cells for widespread use
- The very best perovskites at generating energy contain lead, which is a neurotoxin; however, the industry is working on ways to reduce potential perovskite toxicity
- Perovskite cells are not yet ready for commercial sales
The advantages of perovskite materials for photovoltaic applications are hard to overstate, and researchers have made some progress in solving the drawbacks of lead content and material stability.
Some possible solutions include replacing lead perovskites with tin-based ones (although experimental tin perovskites have much lower power conversion efficiency), and special polymer encapsulants that bind to the lead and stop it from leaching out in case the cells become damaged.
Who makes perovskite solar cells and when can people buy them?
Perovskite solar cells in a lab. Image source: EE Power
Nearly all perovskite solar cells are currently made by researchers in places like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), to be poked and prodded and tested for their ability to make solar power and long-term stability and durability under common environmental conditions. These are mostly postage-stamp sized test cells, not ready for sale to the public. There are some companies, though, who say that large-scale commercialization of perovskites is not far away.
One such company, Oxford PV, touts its high-efficiency perovskite/silicon tandem cells as being nearly ready. Oxford’s big breakthrough in perovskite photovoltaics was the announcement of a 29.52% efficient tandem cell in December, 2020—the highest efficiency ever verified in a solar cell at the time.
In 2021, Oxford released news that work on its manufacturing facility in Brandenburg, Germany was complete, and that production would begin sometime “in 2022.” But in announcing the completion of the facility, Oxford simultaneously broke ties with Meyer Burger, the partner that helped them build it. That parting-of-the-ways led to a rather messy separation, and as of this writing, the Brandenburg facility is not making tandem perovskite-silicon cells as expected.
Perhaps the second likeliest candidate to market perovskite products is Qcells, which has said it is building a perovskite manufacturing line into a new South Korean facility. Qcells is one of the largest solar module manufacturers in the world, and it has plans to expand its facilities across the globe, including doubling the size of its facility in Dalton, Georgia, which is already the largest solar manufacturing plant in the western hemisphere.
Another company, Saule Technologies, is currently looking for licensing partners for its “kinetic solar blinds,” which feature inkjet-printed perovskites added to wide-bladed venetian-style blinds, as seen in the image below.
Saule Technologies is exciting because it was founded by Olga Malinkiewicz, who made breakthrough discoveries in perovskite technology while working as a PhD student at the University of Valencia. Her work was one of the catalysts for the explosive growth in perovskite research. Despite the promise of these products, it should be noted that Saule has been looking for a partner for this technology for nearly 2 years, without a taker.
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- Perovskites are materials with specific crystal structures that exhibit a photovoltaic (electricity from light) effect.
- These materials have the potential to revolutionize the solar industry by greatly increasing efficiency and reducing the cost to manufacture solar panels.
- Scientists have been working hard on perfecting these materials since 2009, and commercially-available solar cells may be coming out in the next year.
- The advantages of perovskites for making solar cells are hard to overstate, but there are drawbacks—such as the presence of lead in these materials—that must be overcome before they can become truly widespread.
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Ben is a writer, researcher, and data analysis expert who has worked for clients in the sustainability, public administration, and clean energy sectors.
These flexible solar cells bring us closer to kicking the fossil-fuel habit
No solar material has managed to supplant silicon. Perovskites, which are far cheaper and can be made into flexible modules, could change that.
Last December, researchers in a lab in Oxford, England, shined a sun lamp onto a tiny solar cell, only about one centimeter square.
The device was actually two cells, stacked one atop the other. The bottom one was made of the type of silicon used in standard solar panels. But the top was perovskite, a material with a crystal structure that’s particularly adept at turning light into electricity.
A pair of probes attached to the so-called tandem solar cell measured its performance. Other researchers in the lab at Oxford PV, a company spun out of the university in 2010, gathered behind a flat-screen monitor, waiting expectantly for a calculation of the cell’s efficiency to appear. When it did, they exchanged high fives. The cell had converted 28% of the energy in the light into electricity, a new efficiency record for a perovskite-on-silicon device. An independent test confirmed it a few days later, after the tiny cell was put on a plane to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.
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Oxford PV’s commercial-sized solar cell (left), and the one-centimeter-square version (right).
While silicon panels might dominate the market—with around 95% market share—silicon is not an especially good solar material. It mainly uses light from the red and infrared end of the solar spectrum, and it has to be fairly thick and bulky to absorb and convert photons. The most efficient silicon solar panels on the market achieve less than 23% efficiency, while the theoretical maximum for a single layer of silicon is around 29%.
Perovskite, on the other hand, can use more of the light that reaches it and can be tuned to work with different parts of the spectrum. Oxford PV has opted for the blue end. Paired in a cell, the two materials can convert more photons into electrons together than either can deliver on its own.
Oxford PV plans to deliver solar cells based on perovskite and silicon to the market by the end of next year, using a German factory it acquired in 2016 from Bosch Solar. The two materials will come in a package that otherwise looks, ships, and installs the same way as a standard solar panel, in a kind of half step that the company believes will make it easier to introduce the technology to the market.
“It’s technology disruption without the business disruption,” says Chris Case, Oxford PV’s chief technology officer.
Dozens of startups that had sought to supplant silicon about a decade ago wound up in bankruptcy instead or were relegated to a niche market. But venture capitalists have invested tens of millions of dollars into perovskite ventures in recent months, heating up what had long been a frosty market for alternative solar materials. The question now is whether perovskites will fizzle too, or will finally beat silicon panels in the marketplace.
“There’s a whole set of things that make it a potentially transformational technology,” says Joe Berry, who leads the perovskite research program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “But the list of technologies that have tried to compete with silicon is long and distinguished, so you have to be humble in that sense too.”
“A solar cell on steroids”
In the late 2000s, a number of well-funded startups attempted to commercialize new and more flexible solar materials, including thin-film technologies like cadmium telluride and copper indium gallium selenide (remember Solyndra?), as well as things like organic solar cells. The promise was that cells made from such materials would be far cheaper to manufacture and could be produced in various shapes.
But silicon solar panels were a fast-moving target. Efficiency levels continued to improve and plummeted, thanks to government-funded research efforts, market stimulation policies, and economies of scale.
Commercial photovoltaic system costs (US dollars per watt of direct current for fixed-tilt systems)
China, in particular, employed aggressive subsidies and strategies to accelerate manufacturing and exports in a quest to dominate the market. The nation’s module shipments and global market share took off starting in the mid-2000s, prompting allegations of illegal dumping aimed at knocking out overseas rivals. for commercial silicon panels dropped by more than half from 2010 to 2013, and the market for alternatives sank.
So these days, to justify the vast expense of building new factories, supply chains, and distribution channels, any new material has to be better in crucial ways: more efficient, cheaper to manufacture, more versatile, longer lasting, or ideally all of the above.
Perovskite shines in some of those categories. A single layer can theoretically reach 33% efficiency, while a tandem perovskite-on-silicon device could achieve around 43%. High efficiency matters because you can produce more electricity from the same number of panels, or the same amount with a smaller footprint and lower costs.
Perovskite solar modules should also be cheaper to make, at least eventually. Producing silicon panels is a multi-step fabrication process that entails refining the silicon under high heat, infusing it with other materials, and precisely slicing it into wafers that must then be precisely patterned in a clean room to create a photovoltaic cell.
Perovskites, on the other hand, can be produced at low temperatures and used in liquid form to coat flexible materials like plastic, enabling a roll-to-roll manufacturing process similar to newspaper printing.
By repurposing Bosch’s thin-film manufacturing plant, Oxford PV expects to be able to mass-produce silicon-and-perovskite cells by the end of next year, and package them together into standard-looking panels.
“It’s an ordinary solar cell on steroids,” Case says.
In March, Oxford PV said it had raised more than 40 million to get its products into the market, bringing its total funding and financing to around 100 million. The factory will pump out 250 megawatts’ worth of cells every year.
Another perovskite startup, Energy Materials, is also looking to use roll-to-roll manufacturing. Based in Rochester, New York, it’s using film equipment originally built for Eastman Kodak to mass-produce perovskite-only solar panels. At full scale, the process will cost half as much as manufacturing a traditional solar module, while the capital costs will run an order of magnitude cheaper, because silicon requires costly, precise machines and plants, says Thomas Tombs, the company’s chief technology officer.
Since perovskite can be flexible, semitransparent, and lightweight, it could also be used where heavy, rigid solar panels wouldn’t work—on Windows, creakier rooftops, irregularly shaped surfaces, or even moving vehicles.
Swift Solar, a NREL-affiliated startup that has raised nearly 7 million in recent months, is looking at putting perovskite-perovskite tandem solar cells—which use two perovskite layers, each tuned to a different part of the spectrum—on drones and electric vehicles to extend their range, according to its CEO, Joel Jean. Such a cell could be highly efficient, as well as more flexible and lightweight than one with a thick silicon layer.
Unlocking new uses for solar power
In his book Taming the Sun, Varun Sivaram, chief technology officer at ReNew Power, argues that new solar technologies like perovskites may be essential for ultimately displacing fossil fuels.
But why do we need even cheaper solar power if silicon panels are already competitive with, say, a coal plant?
One of the biggest problems with solar is that once it’s generating a significant portion of the electricity on the grid, the additional value of the next panel or plant begins to drop off sharply.
That’s because at night, solar farms don’t generate electricity at all, meaning the rest of the system still needs to be capable of meeting total demand. On sunny days, on the other hand, there may be more electricity than the system can use or store. That’s already happening in regions with lots of solar power, like Germany, China, and California.
Grid operators regularly have to force or incentivize solar farms to throttle back their production, often by pushing down to zero or even below. That can squeeze the solar plants’ profits, which eliminates the economic incentives to build more of them and continue reducing the use of fossil fuels.
In a paper published in Nature Energy in 2016, Sivaram and Shayle Kann, now managing director of private equity firm Energy Impact Partners, calculated that to preserve the economic incentives to keep building more plants, the cost of developing solar would need to fall to 25 cents per watt. The all-in costs of the cheapest commercial systems are 1.06 per watt, according to the latest NREL report.
Much of that is due to the high price of installing and wiring the bulky hardware. So cutting the price that dramatically will likely require not only dirt-cheap solar cells but also lightweight, flexible ones that are easier to deploy. Perovskites are the most promising material for making anything like that leap today, Sivaram says.
Cheap solar electricity could also drive down the cost of things like seawater desalination, artificial trees that can pluck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or electrolysis plants that can convert surplus energy into hydrogen fuel.
“It unlocks all these other new applications we never thought about before,” Sivaram says.
The instability problem
The tougher question surrounding perovskites is their durability. Efficiency leaps don’t much matter if the material lasts only a few months or even years—and so far, perovskites have tended to degrade quickly when exposed to ultraviolet light and moisture.
That’s a very big problem for a material that needs to lie under the sun for a few decades. And if companies roll out perovskite panels that end up failing too soon, it will tarnish the material’s reputation even if they later develop more durable versions.
For now, Oxford PV’s market plan depends on whether its perovskite-silicon cell can be made to work and look like a standard silicon solar panel, which includes packaging it in a glass casing that will help it last longer.
But the company did have to work hard on the stability of the material itself, employing computational modeling and Rapid screening to pinpoint promising compositions among some half a million possibilities. The company’s recipe for perovskites is proprietary, but its CEO, Frank Averdung, is bullish. “We have solved the reliability issue,” he says. “We have nailed it, and this is the reason we can move into manufacturing mode now.”
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What is the Most Efficient Solar Cell Out There Today?
Despite the fact that the sun only shines sometimes, solar energy has proven to be a viable alternative to beautiful, beautiful coal and other fossil fuels. Total solar PhotoVoltaic (PV) capacity in the United States reached 64.2 gigawatts in 2018, enough to power 12.3 million American homes (or most of Southeast Asia). Part of the explosive growth has been thanks to the Solar Investment Tax Credit enacted back in 2006. Advances in solar cell technology, particularly by improving their efficiency to convert light into electricity, has also been key for powering a U.S. solar industry that employs more than 242,000 people. That got us to wondering: What is the most efficient solar cell out there today?
A Brief History of the Solar Cell
The photovoltaic effect was discovered by 19-year old Edmund Becquerel while screwing around in his dad’s Paris lab in 1839. He was building a type of battery using two silver-coated platinum electrodes immersed in a dilute acid. While one was kept shaded, the other was exposed to sunlight. Becquerel observed that the “two electrodes altered their electric power.” A few decades passed before additional experiments showed that illumination could produce electric power in certain materials like selenium. In 1883, a New Yawker named Charles Fritts invented the first solar cell panel by coating “selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold, so it was transparent to light.” He achieved a whopping 1% to 2% efficiency, despite the fact that he had no idea what he was doing.
It wasn’t until Albert Einstein entered the picture that the PV effect was better understood. American engineer Russell Ohl patented the first solar cell made of silicon in 1941, though we had to wait until the mid-1950s before solar cell efficiency started to inch past 2% efficiency.
The Most Efficient Solar Cell Out There Today
Solar cell efficiency simply refers to the amount of electricity produced in watts divided by the amount of solar energy it absorbs. Companies like SunPower (SPWR), LG Solar (066570:KS), First Solar (FSLR), and Panasonic (6752:JP) are among the manufacturers producing the most efficient commercially available solar panels today. The best of the best can hit somewhere between 20% and 23% efficiency, with the general consensus among analysts being that SunPower produces the most efficient commercially available solar panels today. We’ve covered the company before, as it appears on the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) portfolio and is using artificial intelligence to make better PV cells.
You may have noticed our recurring “commercially available” caveat. That’s because there are more efficient solar cells out there today, but they’re not commercially available. Yet.
A couple of years ago, scientists designed a prototype solar cell that stacked multiple cells into a single device that captured nearly all of the energy in the solar spectrum, resulting in 44.5% efficiency. Basically, the device used lenses to concentrate sunlight onto tiny, micro-scale solar cells, acting sort of like a “sieve for sunlight, with the specialized materials in each layer absorbing the energy of a specific set of wavelengths.” It’s pretty cool, but pretty expensive to scale at this time.
A Silicon Valley company called Alta Devices, which was acquired in 2013 by a Chinese holding company that specializes in alternative energy, has produced a solar cell with a record 29.1% efficiency. Its solar cell uses a material called gallium arsenide. Gallium is a soft, silvery metal used in various electronics. Gallium arsenide has several unique characteristics that make it ideal for solar cell technology, according to Alta Devices, including high efficiency, excellent UV and radiation resistance, flexibility, and low weight. However, the technology is being targeted for specialized applications, such as small satellites, autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles, electric vehicles, and autonomous sensors. The Alta Devices solar cell is currently being tested aboard the International Space Station for possible use in future NASA low-Earth orbit missions, including powering CubeSats.
A PV technology with more immediate commercial promise for boosting solar cell efficiencies beyond the limits of silicon relies on a material called perovskite.
What is a Perovskite Solar Cell?
Perovskite refers to any crystalline material with a very particular structure, taking its name from a mineral in the Ural Mountains that was named after a Russian scientist called L.A. Perovski. The raw materials and fabrication processes are relatively cheap, while the crystalline structure is well suited for sucking the most possible light with just a thin film.
In other words, perovskite solar cells are cheap, highly efficient, thin, lightweight, and flexible – a potentially winning combination for the next generation of solar cells. And the technology has advanced rapidly. After Japanese scientists developed the first perovskite-based solar cell in 2009, researchers created the first stable thin-film perovskite solar cells with efficiencies of more than 10% by 2012.
The Most Efficient Perovskite Solar Cell Out There Today
Six years later, a company out of Oxford, UK, called, creatively enough, Oxford PV, set a world record of 28% efficiency for its perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell. Founded in 2010, Oxford PV has raised about 99 million, including a 41 million Series D last month led by a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer, Goldwind (no doubt a subsidiary of Goldfinger). Just a few days later, Swiss solar company Meyer Burger took an 18.8% stake in Oxford PV in exchange for installing a production line in the company’s manufacturing facility in Germany, making it the biggest shareholder in the startup, Greentech Media reported. Obviously, there’s a lot of confidence in Oxford PV’s technology, which involves coating a traditional silicon cell with a thin layer of transparent perovskite, enabling it to capture more of the visible light spectrum. Some big brains out there believe Oxford PV can eventually push past the 30% efficiency ceiling.
Other Startups Developing Perovskite Solar Cells
While Oxford PV appears to have the inside track on commercializing a perovskite-based solar cell, it’s not the only startup trying to get to market. Here are a couple more companies trying to generate more electricity from the sun using the new technology.
Founded in 2017, Swift Solar out of Golden, Colorado took in 4.6 million last December, according to a SEC filing. While there’s not much information about the company or its current activities, Swift Solar co-founder Sam Stranks said in a TED presentation back in 2016 that it’s possible to create perovskite cells that are colorful, semi-transparent or opaque, which means the solar panels can become an integral part of a building’s design. Some of the perovskite-based solar cells developed during the founders’ academia days are so lightweight that they can be suspended on a soap bubble.
Let’s hope that bubble doesn’t burst like it did for an Australian company called Greatcell Solar, which had attempted to commercialize a perovskite-based solar cell before recently entering Australia’s version of bankruptcy proceedings.
Founded in 2014, Polish startup Saule Technologies has raised an undisclosed amount of funding based on research by one of its co-founders who created a novel, low-temperature processing method for perovskite solar cells. Specifically, the perovskite panels are produced using an inkjet printer.
The technique allows the company to produce flexible, customized solar panels. Skanska – the fifth largest construction company in the world – has exclusive rights to use Saule Technologies’ solar cell solutions in construction and development projects, and recently implemented it in one of their Warsaw office projects. According to Skanska, “the first pilot production facility is scheduled to be launched at the end of 2019 ,which would allow for the fabrication of large perovskite PV modules on an industrial scale.” Saule also deployed their technology at the “world’s first robot hotel” in Japan, the one which ended up firing half their robot staff at the beginning of this year.
Nanotechnology for Making Efficient Solar Cells
We’re all about nanotechnology here at Nanalyze, so we had to check out one last startup that says it can reach 90% efficiency with its solar panel technology, which relies on carbon nanotubes, a topic we wrote about extensively a few years back. In this case, the carbon nanotubes act like an antenna, but collect light rather than radio waves, converting it into electricity. The technology is based on a 1960s invention – the rectifying antenna – which is used in radio frequency identification tags, PV Magazine reported. The carbon nanotubes allow NovaSolix to capture a much broader portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The company claims 45% efficiency is within reach, while future iterations could theoretically double that.
Despite tariffs and other challenges that have blunted the market a bit over the last couple of years, the solar industry has experienced incredible growth, with a healthy startup scene. The latest RD to boost solar cell efficiency could be the catalyst to reignite that dynamic growth, especially with new technologies like perovskite-based materials promising lower production costs. Oxford PV appears to be the front-runner to reach commercial scale in the next year or two, so we won’t have to wait long to see the dawn of a new day for solar energy.
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