“Miracle” tandem solar cells
May 24, 2023 - The production of tandem solar cells combining silicon with perovskite -- a semi-conducting crystal that absorbs sunlight -- follows years of academic research with the mineral, hailed as a “miracle material.”
South Korean manufacturer of photovoltaic cells, Hanwha Qcells, has announced the world’s first production line for perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells.
Seoul-based Qcells said it would invest $100 million to roll out the next-generation solar cell technology, which promises an efficiency increase of 50-75 per cent compared to standard silicon solar panels.
“With a global R&D network spanning from Korea, Germany and the U.S., Qcells will ramp up its efforts to produce high-efficiency advanced tandem cells,” said Qcells CEO Justin Lee.
The current world record for solar cell efficiency is 32.5 per cent, achieved with a perovskite-silicon tandem cell in December 2022.
By comparison, China’s Longi Green Energy Technology Co. -- the world’s biggest solar firm by market value -- set a new world record for silicon cell efficiency at 26.81% last November.
After being discovered in 1839 in Russia’s Ural Mountains, it took until 2009 for a group of Japanese scientists to first use perovskite to produce a solar cell.
Led by Tsutomu Miyasaka of Toin University in Yokohama, the first perovskite solar cell (PSC) had an uninspiring efficiency rate of just 3.8 per cent.
The stakes are high in the race for low-cost and reliable solar panels. Every hour of sunlight hitting the earth can support a year’s global energy consumption.