Imagine paper-thin, individualized coloured solar panels secured onto a window of a building. Such a concept may soon become a reality according to one study by Britain’s Exeter University, as new generation solar panels have been created and developed from perovskite minerals.
The panels have the ability to convert solar energy directly into electricity needed to run a home. As these panels created from perovskite minerals they are also much cheaper than other alternatives.
Perovskite minerals integral to new panel design
These paper-thin panels may just become part and parcel of buildings within India and certain African countries predicts Senthilarasu Sundaram, one of the team members of the study. This is due to the fact that the panels may shade windows while at the same time convert energy into electricity.
Due to the thin quality of the panels (measuring in billionths of a meter) these panels are almost 40% cheaper to manufacture and have measured at 50% more efficient than commercially produced panels found within the market place.
Panels made from perovskite minerals significantly cheaper & more efficient
“This type of material for solar cells works in diffused conditions much, much better than the other types of solar cells,” said Sundaram. “It won’t be 100 percent, but it will be much more than what we have now.”
The nature of perovskite minerals is the fact that it is able to absorb most of the solar spectrum while being able to function in different atmospheric climates, which is directly opposite concerning other types of solar panels who can only work in direct sunlight.
Silicon or thin-filmed type technologies which are utilised in producing most commercial solar power generating products are quite costly as they are manufactured through a vacuum-based technique, whereas the manufacturing panels made from perovskite minerals is simplistic in all aspects.
Research continues across the globe on the perovskite materials
The research team has tested the perovskite materials in both Americas, Asia, Europe as well as in the Middle East, though it still has to be tested properly under various conditions in order to gain a better understanding of the properties it holds. These tests have to be conducted first before industrial-scale manufacturing may take place.
Perovskite minerals were first discovered during 1839 in the Ural Mountains, and is named after a mineralogist of Russian descent, Lev Perovski. The material may also be utilised to power up techno gadgets such as tablets and laptops.
Due to the focus on attaining government targets set out regarding alternative energy production as well as controlling CO2 emissions, the PV energy market has grown tremendously within a short space of time. The International Energy Agency has even stated that solar could very well be the major source of electricity to meet the worlds demands by 2015.
Photo courtesy of University of Oxford Press Office on Flickr