Solar 3.0: This New Technology Could Change Everything

  • 🎬 Video
  • ℹ️ Description
Perovskite solar cells might revolutionize how humans generate energy from sunlight.
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In this video we’ll explore the world’s fastest improving new solar technology, and provide an exclusive peek inside the lab of a team working on this breakthrough material.

Imagine an inexpensive solution of perovskite crystals that can make a photovoltaic cell so thin, that just half a cup of liquid would be enough to power a house. A solar panel so lightweight, that it can be balanced atop a soap bubble. That is known as the holy grail of solar energy. So when will we see perovskite solar panels used for a solar power system for your home? Maybe sooner than you expect.

Currently, only 2% of global electricity comes from solar power. And 90% of that, comes from crystalline silicon-based solar panels, the dominant material technology.

While abundant, silicon has downsides related to efficiency, manufacturing complexity, and pollution that prevent it from being an absolute no brainer. Emerging thin films like perovskites present a bright future. Imagine solar cars like a solar tesla, solar yachts, or a solar plane.

Solar cell technologies can be classified into two categories, wafer-based or thin-film cells. Perovskites are the leading contender in emerging thin films. Topics covered in this video include applications, perovskite crystal structure, working principle of perovskite solar cells, efficiency limits, multi-junction solar cells, shockley-queisser limit, how solar works, solar simulator, band gap, manufacturing, vapor deposition, how solar panels are made, and the future of solar power.

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💬 Comments on the video
Author

Extremely well explained and illustrated. Very easy to understand by anyone no matter the level of scientific knowledge. Well done and keep up the good work!

Author — Giorgia Angelia

Author

I truly appreciate the honesty in this video presentation. They ask hard questions and point out both the positive and negative attributes of this technology. Over 50 years of R and D with solar and we are still waiting for a significant break through. I do hope that Perovskites prove to be that breakthrough.... The solar cell and the battery still have a lot of improvements to go through before they become a viable, national energy sources.

Author — Jerry Nordstrom

Author

This got me much more interested and educated than severals hours our lessons on perovskites for material science. I was surprised there was no mention of the Lead (Pb) as most issues with perovskites used to be that we didn't know how to do lead-free perovskites crystals. I would have liked to know more about the toxicity of these coatings

Author — Adrien Burg

Author

I remember reading in some magazine around 2000 about 2 technologies for solar. 1 was a paint for your house that would insulate the house (low R factor) and allow solar use. And the other was a film for use on the windows that would still allow light to pass through, but let you hook it into a solar system. I was hoping to really see both develop and this looks sort of like #2. I hope it come to fruition.

Author — Thomas Fisher

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Love the simplicity yet the complexity in his explanations. Can’t wait to see what happens next.
Q: Could Vanta black with is light adsorption affect the efficiency of the tandem and attract more sunlight to the tandem while finding a solution that will dissipate heat away from the tandem bc vanta black absorbs almost all light therefore I’m thinking heat too.

Author — AJ III

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It's nice that he was honest about the main disadvantage, longevity.

Author — Genghisnico13

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A common problem with thin film types is that high temperatures cut the lifespan. For the western states silicon crystal holds up best, so far. If only they can come up with a thin film type that will stand up to extremes in temperature.

Author — mental jewelry

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This was a good video and I'm especially happy you went into the challenges it faces although I always end up frustrated not really understanding how they go about improving the poor aspects. Like, what specifically allows for one of these substances to be more durable to heat and how do they go about trying find it?

I also find it sort of alarming that this crystalline structure was just found in nature rather than come up with. Is it possible theres an even better structure and wouldn't trying to optimize that be the most important step. I mean, it's possible that all this research into perovskite's becomes useless if some better structure is found so shouldn't we first develop the science around finding the best structure?

Author — AWanderingSwordsman

Author

Very excited indeed! I was a little surprised to not see a short mention of the Zebra ISC or Sunpower Maxeon 3rd gen. solar cells. These cells have an efficiency close to 25% and are already in use in some sectors. Can these become even more efficient in the future?

Author — cryzz0n

Author

"Stability and Degradation: Perovskite solar cells have demonstrated competitive efficiencies with potential for higher performance, but their stability is quite limited compared with that of leading PV technologies: They don’t stand up well to moisture, oxygen, extended periods of light, or high heat. To increase stability, researchers are studying degradation in both the perovskite materials and the contact layers. Improved cell durability is paramount for the development of commercial perovskite solar products.

Despite significant progress in understanding the stability and degradation of perovskite solar cells, current operational lifetimes are not commercially viable. Mobile markets may tolerate a shorter operational life, but stability during storage (prior to use) is still a key performance criterion for this sector. For mainstream solar power generation, technologies that cannot operate for more than two decades are unlikely to be viable regardless of other benefits.

Early perovskite devices degraded rapidly. A few years ago, typical perovskite devices would degrade within minutes or hours to non-functional states. Now multiple groups have demonstrated lifetimes of several months of operation. For commercial, grid-level electricity production, SETO is targeting an operational lifetime of at least 20 years, and preferably more than 30 years.

The perovskite PV R&D community is heavily focused on operational lifetime and is considering multiple approaches to understand and improve intrinsic and extrinsic stability and degradation. Efforts include improved surface passivation of absorber layers; alternative materials and formulations for absorber layers, charge transport layers, and electrodes; and advanced encapsulation materials and approaches that mitigate degradation sources during fabrication and operation.

One issue with assessing degradation in perovskites relates to developing consistent testing and validation methodologies. Research groups frequently report performance results based on varied test conditions, including variability in encapsulation approaches, atmospheric composition, illumination, electrical bias, and other parameters. While such varied test conditions can provide insights and valuable data, the lack of standardization makes it challenging to directly compare results and difficult to predict field performance from test results. This affects the entire perovskite research and development (R&D) community, independent of any specific research area, material set, or stability improvement approach."


Author — Brandon Sutton

Author

Fantastic presentation on a solar technology I didn't even know existed. I always love hearing about newer and better technology. In my heart I know you'll solve the problems surrounding early degradation. Cheaper more cost effective so what's not to like? Scientists like yourself always amaze me. Thank you for everything you do to make this world a better place to live. Energy costs have a lot to do with making that happen. Know that you're very much appreciated!

Author — Michael Sparks

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question. could you create like two or three lays of this. yes in theory it would reduce the one below its solar generation, but would it work? be a cool way of compacting even more solar power in a smaller space.

Author — common sense. 101

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Outstanding presentation. Super interesting details direct from the company, including their manufacturing process

Author — BritainRitten

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So, I have actually read quite a few research studies related to perovskite panels. Most of them were from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It seems that there are two major issues with perovskite solar panels. One of them was mentioned in the video, but not with a lot of detail. Currently, perovskite panels have an estimated lifespan of approximately 10 years. They did mention durability problems, but didn't really emphasize just how long they are expected to last. They kind of jumped around a bit on it instead.

The other issue is related to this, but probably more important. Because they degrade faster, they also leech chemicals, such as lead (and the other materials they are made of) into soil and waterways which has the potential of contaminating our food supply if placed in agricultural areas, and drinking water if runoff makes it into water reservoirs. Some of the chemicals that leech out are not harmful at the low levels that make it into soil and water, but other chemicals used in the construction have not really been tested to determine if they will be safe for humans (or other creatures) at any level if they contaminate our soil or waterways. Lead is not safe at any level, so that is a major issue.

The ability to manufacture them at such low temperatures is great when it comes to cost and production related environmental hazards, but it also means that they can begin to degrade at those temperatures as well. I'm sure that is what the people in the laboratory are probably working on tackling, but if something like this gets pushed out too quickly without solving this issue, it could cause a lot more problems that the ones it resolves. Hopefully, they figure something out though, because otherwise, they seem quite promising in comparison to traditional silicon solar panels.

Author — Jolene Mechchic

Author

Cool to see more efficient solar power models being researched. Finding efficiency is the crux of engineering.

Author — Casey Eckard

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This is definitely something I hope becomes commercially available soon because I inted to heat my house using Geo-thermal and I'd like Solar Panels (with w/e batteries I can get for energy storage for cold/night time usage) to be what is giving the geo-thermal unit all the energy it needs to operate at 100%. Not needing to burn wood or use oil/propane etc. is a dream of mine but living in NH I worry about how many solar panels I'll need to get so that (even in Winter time) I never have to worry about having enough power to run my geo-thermal unit. I haven't done any research into how much solar panels are going to cost me but, as long as I can afford it, I have no doubt I'll be needing dozens for year round powering/usage.

Author — MTGPlayer10

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I look forward to seeing Perovskite solar cells becoming main stream, and hopefully bringing down the cost of solar cell, and improving efficiency on energy generation. It will certainly benefit alot of people then, from all walks of life.

Author — ScottScott

Author

The initial video depicting the electron-hole interaction when the P and N-type materials are brought into contact was something you might consider donating to a University for the 1st course of Solid State Device physics. It would also be useful to incorporate the discussion of the Fermi level as part of the discussion to round out the band gap discussion. Good luck in your venture but many practical problems to overcome but your video shows you have a grasp of many such issues.

Author — Aheront

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Cool to see more efficient solar power models being researched. Finding efficiency is the crux of engineering.

Author — Степан Новиков

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Mr. Jean does an excellent job of explaining Swift Solar's approach. I also appreciate his candor on his current priorities for scaling production, his manufacturing and testing methodologies, what the limitations currently are (longevity and environmental ruggedness), the current market applications, and his priorities in broadening its utility by addressing the longevity issues.

Author — Gregory Parrott