Mention perovskite to anyone involved in the development of solar panels and you might hear a soft purring sound of contentment. It’s a part of solar that’s had a lot of attention in R&D over the years. Many believe that it could help revolutionise the installation and efficiency of panels in the future.
Now perovskite panels are set to be used in installations in Poland and, if successful, could see them coming to a rooftop near you over the next couple of years. The project comes out of a partnership between Saule Technologies and the SKanksa Group. These particular panels can be printed to any shape or size, something that means greater flexibility in the installation process. While the panels should deliver 100 watts per square metre and have a 10% efficiency, it’s the ability to customise that is attracting much of the attention.
According to the founder of Saule Technologies Olga Malinkiewicz:
“We may customize the shape, colour and size of the module depending on the needs of the customer and install them wherever there is a free area of the building. This also means not being limited to the roof.”
That could mean we’ll start seeing different kinds of panels on roof tops and the partnership is hoping to go into full-time production as early as August 2018. The wide flexibility in design means that places like office blocks could benefit from perovskite panels as windows to help improve their energy mix.
The Power of Perovskite
These are still early days for perovskite but the future is looking bright. Not only is it semi-transparent but there is the potential to further improve the efficiency of solar cells. Research at the Australian National University has, to date, produced cells with 26.4% efficiency, way above traditional silicon panels.
The big challenge to date has been converting all this great research into something that is commercially viable. The move by Saule Technologies could be the first step in creating the next generation of highly efficient solar cells but it’s all about bringing down the cost, of course. To do that, researchers and developers need to make more stable cells, something that has been achieved by combining it with other materials.
One of the other key factors that makes perovskite a potentially good material for solar cells is it’s ease of manufacture – traditional silicon cells need to go through expensive processing while perovskite can be manufactured relatively easily in a laboratory environment. Their stability remains one of the biggest issues, however. To be viable, manufacturers will need to produce a system that is comparable to the 20 year lifetime of current silicon varieties.
Who are Saule Technologies
Saule Technologies prides itself on being one of the first companies attempting to make commercial perovskite panels and has already gained notoriety for developing the ink jet style printing process for creating its products. The launch of their prototype modules which are designed to be used in the construction industry could mean a major game changer for the industry if it works out. We’ll begin to get an idea by the end of the summer when the first large format panels are released.