A significant breakthrough has been achieved in the realm of solar panel efficiency, thanks to perovskite – a ground-breaking material often referred to as a “miracle material.” A team from the Chinese solar technology firm Longi has set a new world record of 33.9% for a silicon-perovskite tandem solar cell, surpassing the previous record set in May by the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.
Remarkably, this achievement not only exceeded the theoretical limit of 33.7% for standard single junction cells, commonly found in commercial solar panels, but it also marked the first instance of surpassing this limit. In a statement, the company highlighted, “this provides meaningful empirical data to demonstrate the advantage of crystalline silicon-perovskite tandem solar cells over crystalline silicon single junction solar cells in terms of efficiency.”
The breakthrough in efficiency, reaching 33.9%, represents a significant leap forward in solar cell technology. The emergence of crystalline silicon-perovskite tandem technology has paved the way for the development of next-generation high-efficiency solar cells, allowing the same area, absorbing the same light, to produce more electricity.
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While the theoretical efficiency limit of silicon-perovskite tandem solar cells stands at 43%, achieving this level on a commercial scale is deemed unlikely. Nevertheless, there is optimism about the potential for mass production of ultra-efficient perovskite solar panels, with researchers from Nanjing University in China reporting a design breakthrough that could make production economically viable.
Projections indicate that the next-generation panels could be both 50% cheaper and 50% more efficient than traditional silicon cells. UK start-up Oxford PV, a spin-out from the University of Oxford, is actively working on commercialising this technology and aims to commence full-scale production at a German facility later this year.
Chris Case, Chief Technology Officer at Oxford PV, emphasised the transformative potential of perovskite in overcoming the limitations of current silicon solar panels. He noted that while current silicon panels have reached their physical limits, perovskite offers a way to significantly enhance the efficiency of solar cells. However, the primary challenge lies in ensuring durability and reliability, with ongoing research and development focused on enhancing these aspects rather than further improving efficiency.
Perovskite, hailed as a “miracle material,” has demonstrated promise not only in the realm of solar energy but also in revolutionising various applications, including high-speed telecommunications and renewable energy technologies.