High-efficiency silicon/perovskite solar cells

Perovskite cells have only emerged as a viable photovoltaic material over the past two years. This will be the first time a tandem, stacked approach has been attempted with silicon cells on this scale.

Lead organisation:
University of New South Wales
Project partners:
Australian National University , Monash University , Arizona State University , Suntech R&D Australia Pty Ltd , Trina Solar
Location:
Canberra (ACT), Melbourne (Vic), Arizona (USA), Sydney, NSW
Technology:
Solar energy
ARENA programme:
Research and Development Programme
Start date:
August 2014

Need

To increase the efficiency of silicon modules by stacking a thin second cell made of perovskites on top of standard silicon cells.

Silicon solar cell costs have decreased rapidly over the past five years as manufacturing has become more refined and production volumes have increased. The cost of starting materials, such as purified silicon chunks, glass sheets, frames, and junction boxes, are becoming a lower portion of total production costs.

The key to further reducing costs is to increase the module power by increasing the energy conversion efficiency of the encapsulated cells. This can be achieved through the tandem silicon / perovskite cell being investigated by this project.

Project innovation

Perovskite cells have only emerged as a viable photovoltaic material over the past two years. This will be the first time a tandem, stacked approach has been attempted with silicon cells on this scale.

The project aims to demonstrate an energy conversion efficiency higher than any previous silicon-based solar cell, above 26 per cent.

The commercial feasibility of the approach will be evaluated through strong commercial partnerships.

The project will also investigate new approaches to address the moisture sensitivity of the perovskites involved, at both cell and module level.

Benefit

A key benefit of the stacked approach is the ability for perovskite cells to effectively absorb ultravilot light and pass infrared light to the underlying silicon. This combined capability is more efficient than conventional silicon-only solar cells.

These cells would be more expensive to produce but with very little increase in materials cost, due to the thin layers of perovskite involved. Costs are expected to decrease as production volumes increase.

The modules would ultimately have a substantial cost advantage if able to match the durability of standard modules. The efficiency advantage over standard modules would allow a price premium, providing a clear path to commercialisation of the improved technology.

More information

Media release – 26 August 2014: ARENA supporting bright ideas in solar R&D

Contact information

Professor Martin Green, UNSW
Phone:
+61 2 9385 4018
Email:
m.green@unsw.edu.au