The record-breaking perovskite cells: how they could revolutionize solar energy


Ground-breaking innovations in the development of perovskite solar cells are setting a new standard for efficient solar power generation. In fact, the latest published findings show that the next generation of solar cells can outperform traditional solar panels, increasing efficiencies by up to 22%.

Here’s what you need to know about this record-breaking technology that is shaping the future of solar energy.

What are Perovskite solar cells?

Perovskite solar cells are thin devices built with layers of materials that offer exceptional compositional flexibility, high tolerance to defects and low production costs. Rather than referring to a particular material, the name perovskite references the crystalline structure of these layers that make the cells lightweight and incredibly flexible. Recent scientific breakthroughs have shown perovskite solar cells can overcome losses in efficiency that occur in traditional solar panels when sunlight is converted to energy, suggesting an exciting new future for solar power.

The business impact: cost-effectiveness of perovskite solar cells

Conventional solar cells are energy-intensive to produce and can only absorb a fixed range of the solar spectrum. Not only are perovskite solar cells cheaper to produce, but they can also be adjusted to the wavelengths of the light they absorb – making them more efficient and therefore cost-effective.

A widespread adoption of perovskite cell technology could accelerate the rollout of cheaper and better solar power. Production of perovskite solar panels is already underway in China, with a reported design breakthrough that would enable mass production of panels at half the cost of traditional silicon cells.

In Australia, researchers are harnessing AI to produce solar cells from mineral perovskite in a matter of weeks, reducing the amount of human labor and risk of error involved in the process. The use of AI would make it easier to reproduce perovskite cells at a level of commercial-scale production.

Perovskite solar cells offer clean energy advancements

The positive impacts of perovskite solar cells won’t just be limited to efficiency improvements. The potential for lower-cost, high performing solar power would make it easier for households worldwide to switch to renewable energy sources, reducing our collective reliance on fossil fuels.

But perovskite solar cells may also offer other forms of application, including areas such as high-speed telecommunications and other renewable energy technologies – playing a key role in the global shift towards sustainable solutions.

Are perovskite solar cells ready for real world applications?

Businesses face key issues in replicating laboratory results in the real world. While perovskite solar cells have demonstrated the potential for higher performance, their stability is less robust than silicon. This makes them more vulnerable to environmental degradation such as humidity and temperature variation, as they can decompose in reaction to moisture, oxygen, or exposure to light and heat.

As a result, perovskite solar cells currently have limited operational lifetimes which may not be viable in the commercial sector. Where early perovskite devices lasted only a few minutes or hours, current technologies have lifetimes of several months. But for mainstream solar power generation, solar cells need to operate for more than two decades. Researchers are working on extending this lifespan by mitigating degradation, either by using protective materials to encapsulate the perovskite or finding treatments that are more robust.

To scale from laboratory setting to mass production, businesses will need to strike a balance between efficiency and cost. Ultimately however, improved cell durability and longevity is critical for the development of commercial perovskite solar products.

The road ahead for perovskite solar cells

Impressive progress in the development of perovskite solar cells over the past few years has pushed their efficiency beyond what can be achieved with silicon. But, in addition to solving the issue of durability, there are still some hurdles to overcome.

In terms of scalability, maintaining uniformity of perovskite material in a large-scale manufacturing environment remains tricky, and there is a major difference in efficiency between a small-area cell and large-area module. The future of perovskite manufacturability will depend on solving this challenge.

What’s more, financial institutions must be willing to fund such a project for successful commercialization of perovskite technologies. Currently, there is a lack of data to compare performance across various perovskite devices over the long-term. Standardized testing protocols will be needed to boost confidence in perovskite technologies, enabling investment in production and deployment.