The Future of Energy – Scientists Unveil Roadmap for Bringing Perovskite/Silicon Tandem Solar Cells to Market

Perovskite Silicon Tandem Solar Cell KAUST

KAUST scientists have developed a roadmap for commercializing highly efficient perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells, promising a future of affordable clean energy. Addressing challenges from real-world application to manufacturing, they aim to transform the global energy landscape, with the technology’s market value expected to exceed $10 billion within ten years. Credit: 2024 KAUST

Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have developed a comprehensive plan to introduce perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells into the marketplace, setting the stage for a world energized by widespread, cost-effective renewable energy, both in Saudi Arabia and globally.

The authors of the article, published in esteemed journal Science, include Prof. Stefaan De Wolf and his research team at the KAUST Solar Center. The team is working on improving solar efficiency to meet Saudi Arabia’ solar targets.

Perovskite/silicon tandem technology combines the strengths of two materials – perovskite’s efficient light absorption and silicon’s long-term stability – to achieve record-breaking efficiency. In 2023, the De Wolf laboratory reported two world records for power conversion efficiency, with five achieved globally in the same year, showing rapid progress in perovskite/silicon tandem technology.

Challenges and Solutions for Commercialization

However, translating laboratory success to real-world application requires careful consideration. The paper outlines key challenges and proposes solutions for commercialization.

Among these is the consideration of real-world conditions, like variable temperature and sunlight. The authors suggest geographical testing – akin to personalized medicine for solar cells – to optimize performance for specific locations.

Another consideration is accelerated stability testing. The deployed solar cells must have a lifespan that lasts decades. Accordingly, tests that compress years of wear and tear into a much shorter timeframe are necessary. Understanding degradation rates is crucial for setting competitive prices and warranties.

Manufacturing Considerations and Future Prospects

Finally, current manufacturing processes involve high material costs and potentially dangerous chemicals that may require costly safety precautions. The paper proposes paradigms for both monolithic and mechanically stacked tandem production lines to identify cost-reduction opportunities.

“The market for perovskite/silicon tandems is expected to exceed $10 billion within a decade,” said Professor Stefaan De Wolf. “KAUST is at the forefront of this revolution, laying the groundwork for affordable, accessible clean energy for all.”

Erkan Aydin, another author of the study is expected to leave the De Wolf lab in 2024 to start his own in Europe.

The breakthrough research at KAUST on perovskite/silicon tandem photovoltaics exemplifies the University’s commitment to developing green technologies that advance carbon-free policies and secure a sustainable future.

Reference: “Pathways toward commercial perovskite/silicon tandem photovoltaics” by Erkan Aydin, Thomas G. Allen, Michele De Bastiani, Arsalan Razzaq, Lujia Xu, Esma Ugur, Jiang Liu and Stefaan De Wolf, 12 January 2024, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.adh3849

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