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Commercial Perovskite solar cells at 10 cents per watt could soon bring lower cost energy


The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created an environmentally stable, high-efficiency perovskite solar cell, bringing the emerging technology a step closer to commercial deployment.

Lower cost

There are estimates that perovskite solar panels could cost just 10 to 20 cents per watt, compared to 75 cents per watt for traditional silicon-based panels — anywhere from 3X to 8X cost savings.

* The ingredients used to create perovskite are widely available and inexpensive to combine, since it can be done at relatively low temperatures (around 100ºC). Silicon cells need to be heated to high temperatures (as high as 900ºC) to remove defects, which is a costly process.

* Silicate perovskite may form up to 93% of the lower mantle, and the magnesium iron form is considered to be the most abundant mineral in Planet Earth, making up 38% of its volume.

* Versatility: Perovskite rolls have a thin, flexible and lightweight structure due to this processing, unlike silicon wafers, which tend to be thick, heavy and rigid. Because of this versatility, perovskite could theoretically be placed on roof shingles, windows or pretty much any surface imaginable. This versatility is what could enable solar to reach a scale that eventually eliminates dependence on fossil fuels entirely.

* Efficiency: As mentioned above, perovskite's conversion efficiency has increased at an astounding rate over the last five years — from 4 percent to nearly 20 percent. And this is just the beginning — the theoretical limit of perovskite's conversion efficiency is about 66 percent, compared to silicon's theoretical limit of about 32 percent

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