Solar cell prices have dropped steadily for years. Solar power is now cost-competitive with coal and natural gas. Perovskite, a new material, may cut those costs in half. Plus it’s more versatile and efficient than silicon-based solar cells. Oxford PV is already getting 27% efficiency with perovskite cells – 4% more than silicon-based panels – and are working towards 37%.
Perovskite is made by mixing two readily-available cheap salts. It is a very lightweight thin film and easily transportable. Thus, it could power areas in the third world that don’t have electricity or in disaster areas that need power.. Even better, the cells can be multi-color. So, instead of hiding solar cells, they could be an integral part of a building’s design. Attractive perovskite-tinted windows could shade office building interiors and also cut down on air conditioning costs because incoming heat would be turned into electricity.
It can be used on its own or as a film going on top of traditional silicon panels, increasing efficiency at little extra cost.
So, perovskite is cheaper, better, and more efficient than silicon cells. If it works on a grid-scale, it’ll provide huge amounts of cheap solar energy.
Sam Stranks, co-founder of Swift Solar, explains the technology at a Ted Talk.