Researchers at Teesside & Leicester universities are taking part in a multi-million pound project to develop more efficient and sustainable solar cells, through use of perovskite.
With less energy needed in its manufacture, and less carbon emitted, perovskite holds out potential as the solar industry’s replacement for sand-derived, plentiful silicon.
Recognised by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, technology innovators Oxford Perovskite hold the world record conversion efficiency of 26.8% for the material, achieved two years ago in lab tests. In contrast, conventional, commercially deployed silicon-based cells struggle to reach 20%.
Perovskite has downsides, though. It can be less stable in contact with other cell components. That shortens its working life, reducing attractiveness to buyers. Worse, the best performing perovskite compounds contain lead, harmful to health and environment.
SUNREY is funded by Horizon Europe, the European Union’s research and innovation programme, within the framework of the Green Deal Initiative worth approximately £3.75m. The acronym stands for ‘Boosting SUstaiNability, Reliability and EfficiencY of perovskite PV through novel materials and process engineering’,
Along with Leicester’s researchers, the Teesside academics will seek improvements in electrode materials and charge transport methods, innovate cheaper deposition techniques and streamline manufacturing processes.
Modelling the material’s degradation during a panel’s decades on a roof is also a focus.
The project is being coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute, near Berlin. Other research institutes, universities, and European manufacturers will contribute.
Teesside’s professor David Hughes said: “We are delighted to be taking part of this project which is destined to have a major impact on the production of renewable energy. “Making perovskite solar cells more efficient and sustainable will enable us to harness the power of the sun more effectively, with minimal environmental impact.
“This technology will be of vital importance as the world looks to a future without fossil fuels.”