Queanbeyan company receives $6M to develop perovskite solar cells technology
ARENA has awarded $6 million to Queanbeyan-based GreatCell Solar to commercially manufacture Perovskite solar cells.
The company has patented a printable technique for manufacturing solar panels on an industrial scale. GreatCell will use the funding to create a prototype Perovskite solar cell (PSC) large enough for rooftop and building applications.
In addition, GreatCell plans to build a demonstration facility for manufacturing Perovskite solar cells (PSCs). It plans to mass-manufacture PSC cells within 2-3 years, an unparalleled feat in the field of Perovskite science.
The challenge is to create a PSC panel durable enough to compete with conventional polysilicon solar panels. To be competitive, they must demonstrate a life-span of at least 25 years.
The new grant comes on the back of 2015 ARENA-funded project, which confirmed the viability of the GreatCell PSC for commercial-scale applications.
ARENA Chief Executive Ivor Frischknecht said fostering homegrown solar innovation was a top priority for the agency.
“We want to move Perovskites closer towards commercialisation,” he said. “This will help accelerate solar PV innovation in Australia, which is one of our key priorities.”
Perovskite solar cells bring high efficiency at low cost
In 2009, solar cells incorporating a layer of light-absorbing Perovskite recorded efficiency levels of barely 4 per cent. Since then efficiencies have soared, reaching a record 26 percent sunlight-to-energy conversion in April this year.
Perovskite’s lattice-like atomic structure gives the material tremendous light-absorbing abilities. They can effectively be ‘printed’ using industrial machinery that’s commonly available.
PSCs also offer the potential of being relatively cheap to produce and simple to manufacture.
Furthermore, they require far less energy to produce than silicon solar panels (also known as low embodied energy).
Australia at forefront of Perovskite research
According to GreatCell, the ultimate aim of the project is to develop a new class of Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) panels. BIPV technology involves integrating flexible or transparent solar cells into windows and walls.
Greatcell Solar Managing Director Richard Caldwell said his company was one of many worldwide jostling to fully commercialise PSCs.
“It has the compelling attributes of lower cost and greater versatility than existing PV technologies,” Mr Caldwell said.
“In particular, it is suited to real world solar conditions. In the long term, this technology has the potential to provide a cost competitive and clean energy solution.”