All photovoltaic solar cells rely on semiconductors — materials in the middle ground between electrical insulators such as glass and metallic conductors such as copper — to turn the energy from light into electricity.
Silicon has been the primary semiconductor material used in solar cells since the 1950s. However, the large silicon crystals used in conventional solar panels require an expensive, multi-step manufacturing process that utilises a lot of energy. In the search for an alternative, scientists have harnessed the tunability of perovskites to create semiconductors with similar properties to silicon.
In 2012, researchers first discovered how to make a stable, thin-film perovskite solar cell with light photon-to-electron conversion efficiencies over 10%, using lead halide perovskites as the light-absorbing layer.
Now moving into 2023, HZB has harnessed tandem perovskite solar cells to achieve a new all-time high record of efficiency converting 32.5% of solar radiation into electrical energy.
Professor Steve Albrecht said: “This is a really big leap forward that we didn’t foresee a few months ago. All the teams involved at HZB, especially the PV Competence Center (PVComB) and the HySPRINT Innovation lab teams have worked together successfully and with passion.”
“We are very excited about the new value as it shows that the perovskite/silicon tandem technology is highly promising for contributing to a sustainable energy supply.”
Due to technological advancements such as this, the sunlight-to-energy efficiency of a solar cell has jumped nearly tenfold from 3.8% a decade ago to the current record of 32.5%.
Whilst these record-breaking cells are still a long way away in terms of a commercial production scale product, organisations such as HZB are demonstrating the level of potential and future development that Solar PV will continue to provide.
The best news for our clients is that any SolarEdge system we install is forward-compatible and updatable with the latest panels. Meaning that if commercial solar panels continue to improve at this rate, we will be able to keep your system up to date with the latest technology with little to no disruption.