A future where spray on solar cells are a viable option is closer than most may think. These solar cells would be much cheaper than today’s silicon based panels and can be sprayed onto virtually any surface, from skyscraper windows to the top of a car.
While this technology may seem implausible, solar researchers and key executives feel that this development will shake up the economics of this $42 billion industry. This disruption will largely be caused by an array of materials known as perovskites. When altered, these materials turn into a crystalline structure can be used to harvest light.
Researchers hope that the perovskites, which can be mixed into a liquid solution and sprayed on a range of surfaces, will play an essential role in the expansion of solar energy. Scientists from around the globe are working vigorously to make sure this technology is commercially available by the end of 2018. Hiroshi Segawa, a professor at the University of Tokyo told Bloomberg “This is the front runner of low-cost solar cell technologies.” (http://bloom.bg/2n81WcA) Segawa is leading a 5 year long project that is being funded by the Japanese government to help advance perovskite technology.
Not everyone is confident on the positive impact this technology will have on the industry, especially with today’s dependence on silicon photovoltaic cells. But recent research into the materials potential continues to progress and take the solar research field by storm. The World Economic Forum has chosen this material as one of its top 10 emerging technologies of 2016 and solar panel makers from around the globe are racing to bring perovskites to market.
Although the technology has come along way since its inception in 2006, there are still many challenges researchers must overcome. One of those being that perovskites are still unstable when left outside for extended periods of time. Another major obstacle is evenly distributing the material across large surfaces. Manasori Iida, an official at the technology and design sector at Panasonic said “It is difficult to continuously make the coating even.” (http://bloom.bg/2n81WcA)
Some are concerned with the materials commercial viability. “It certainly is going to be more than five years and it could be never,” said Martin Green, a professor at the University of New South Wales, he continued “For any technology to be marketable, it has to be certified and the testing process could take time. You need someone to bankroll an operation to scale up to go into manufacturing.” (http://bloom.bg/2n81WcA)
Solar technology is advancing quickly and constant work is being done to make it cheaper for the common consumer. Perovskites could be the answer to many of the problems the industry is facing. Hopefully research on this amazing technology progresses quickly so this product can be put to use around the globe.
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