macro shooting of natural rock - little cryslals of Perovskite mineral stone (calcium titanium oxide mineral composed of calcium titanate) isolated on white background

Perovskite: The Future of the Solar Industry

The ability to generate solar power from a diverse range of surfaces is a possibility in the near future, thanks to a material known as perovskite. According to many scientists, the power of liquid solar cells has the potential to revolutionize the $55 billion solar energy industry.

“Solar cells are no longer limited to rigid structures such as panels,” said Dr. Anita Ho-Baillie, manager with the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at UNSW’s Perovskite Solar Cell Research program. “Imagine being able to cover every surface of buildings, devices, and cars with solar cells.”

Named as one of the World Economic Forum’s top 10 emerging technologies of 2016, perovskite is a unique material that can be used to harvest light. When mixed with liquid solutions, perovskite can be applied to a wide range of surfaces, allowing scientists greater freedom to explore new ways to incorporate the production of solar energy.

“The diversity of chemical compositions also allows cells to be transparent, or made of different colors,” said Ho-Baillie. “The versatility of solution deposition of perovskite makes it possible to spray-coat, print, or paint on solar cells.”

Not only does this mean we may start to see futuristic technology like solar cells that can be painted on the walls of our homes, or light-harnessing finishes applied to electric cars, but these products may even become less cost-prohibitive. Traditional solar panels are made with silicon, but according to Ho-Baillie, perovskite materials are much easier to produce.

“The fabrication process consumes a small amount of materials and doesn’t require high temperatures,” Ho-Baillie said. “From these new innovations, it opens up new opportunities and applications.”

This technology isn’t entirely new, however. Japanese researchers first discovered perovskite’s potential as a solar cell in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2012, after advancements were made to the material’s efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity, that it started attracting the attention of the scientific community.

Ho-Baillie’s research team is supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) solar excellence initiative, which has provided the team with $3.6 million in funding. So far, the team has managed to achieve a conversion efficiency rating of 18 per cent on a single perovskite cell. Since most commercial solar panels boast rates in the low 20 per cent range, this breakthrough means that perovskite cells can be nearly comparable to standard silicon panels.

The project goal is to achieve a reliable efficiency of 26 per cent, but work still needs to be done to ensure the material’s long-term durability. Currently, Ho-Baillie said perovskite cells only last for a few months without protection from the elements, as they are highly susceptible to damage caused by fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels. However, she is confident that this revolutionary material could be a game-changer for the renewables industry.

“Perovskites came out of nowhere with an efficiency rating of 3.8 per cent, and have since grown in leaps and bounds,” Ho-Baillie said. “I think we can get to 24 per cent within a year or so.”

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5 thoughts on “Perovskite: The Future of the Solar Industry

  1. Other free energy sources:
    – Graphene rope to bring up geothermal energy.
    – Wave movement.
    – Piezoelectric crystal incorporated into a hard floor surface such as cement)
    – Hydroelectricity turbines in water pipes during household delivery.
    – Wind turbines.

    1. I agree with your comment Chrissy/Tina regarding the fact that minerals to make solar cells in any which way are mined and, therefore, not renewable. I wonder when solar power generated in this way is going to be publicly recognized as a Band-Aid rather than a solution. I would have to put wind turbines in the same “Band-Aid” category as they are terrifically harmful to bird, bat and other migratory species around the world.

      1. If both wind and solar are OUT in your opinion, what safe, sustainable, affordable power source solutions are available to the masses? How is this power obtained? I actually agree and would like to learn more. THANK YOU :-D !!!

  2. Perovskite is a mineral which is mined from the earth’s mantle – first discovered in Ural mountains of Russia. It is mining just the same as coal is mined – a destructive process. This mineral is made from calcium, titanium and oxygen….so even when made synthetically, the titanium is mined and thus this is not a sustainable energy source.

    1. By your definition there wouldn’t be a single source of sustainable energy.

      And Perovskite is CaTiO3 – which basically means, that it only consists of elements which are available in abundance and don’t need of a lot of energy for refinement (relatively speaking)

      The only “non-sustainability problem” with Perovskite right now is, that it isn’t very stable – the solar cells degenerate quickly and to counter that heavy metals like e.g. lead are being used (which is ofcourse problematic). Ofcourse there’s a lot of research going on in that field right now.

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