World record-breaking perovskite technology to boost Europe’s solar energy supply
Culturing supportive photovoltaic research and development
Recent figures from Ember show that from May to August 2022, the European Union generated a record 12% of its electricity from solar energy, which helped avoid 29 billion Euros worth of fossil gas imports. This has not only increased the number of jobs in the industry, but it also underscores the role of photovoltaics (PV) in advancing the energy transition. With the advent of new, more efficient PV technologies, Europe has a unique opportunity to advance these technologies ahead of its Asian partners and reboot its manufacturing capacity. All of this bodes well for the European PV industry, which has faced fierce competition from Asian competitors over the past decade.
CSEM and Meyer Burger have long fostered a supportive environment through joint PV research to improve access to next-generation solar and module technologies and promote their market penetration in the industry. Now, the two companies are joining forces to validate the potential of silicon-based perovskite tandem solar cells.
World record efficiencies
Until now, the market has been dominated by single-junction solar cells optimized to absorb light in a single material – silicon. This has been the most promising route to cheaper power generation, with cell efficiencies of up to 24-25% achieved at industrial levels at competitive costs.
Now, so-called perovskite silicon tandem technology could be at the heart of the next revolution. These modules are designed to better capture the solar spectrum and allow cell efficiencies in excess of 30%. In addition, perovskite technology can be manufactured with abundant materials, minimizing the supply risks of raw materials. This unique combination of high efficiency and low manufacturing costs is expected to lower consumers’ final electricity price, which in turn should increase the share of PV electricity in the energy mix.
In June 2022, CSEM and EPFL PV Lab set two verified world records for 1 cm2 (up to 31.25%) silicon-based perovskite tandem solar cells. Now, CSEM and Meyer Burger have set another record, in the same field, for a solar cell with a 29.6% efficiency on a 25 cm2 active area – a world record for this sample size. This record was independently certified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the United States.
Creating the building blocks for the ultimate PV module
Perovskite silicon tandem solar cells are made by stacking 15 different thin-film materials, some of which are only a few nanometers thick. The challenge is to precisely control the deposition of each layer in the stack and avoid the formation of pinholes, especially in the nanometer-thin contact under the perovskite. Optimizing this interface was key to achieving this record.
Meyer Burger Research
Considering that a few years ago it was still a theoretical concept, the fact that CSEM has achieved a world-record in perovskite technology on a 25 cm2 cell is really impressive. Although the industrialization phase still requires further development work, CSEM’s team has succeeded in laying the first technological building blocks for the ultimate photovoltaic solar module. Meyer Burger will continue to champion this technology in the future.
Bringing solar production back to Europe
Although Meyer Burger and CSEM need several years of research and development to bring this technology to industrial maturity, their results show this technology’s high-performance potential. In the future, the technology could be manufactured in Meyer Burger’s gigawatt production facilities in Europe. With the support of CSEM, Meyer Burger is helping to bring the PV manufacturing industry back to Europe, while creating high-quality jobs and ensuring Europe’s energy independence.