The majority of solar cells only achieve 20 percent efficiency—for every kW of equivalent sunlight, about 200W of electrical power can be generated. Now an international team of researchers has resolved a key fundamental issue of a material defect which limits and degrades solar cell efficiency. The problem has been known about and studied for over 40 years.
According to SolarDaily, Prof Tony Peaker who co-ordinated the research at the University of Manchester said: “During the first hours of operation, after installation, a solar panel’s efficiency drops from 20% to about 18%. An absolute drop of 2% in efficiency may not seem like a big deal, but when you consider that these solar panels are now responsible for delivering a large and exponentially growing fraction of the world’s total energy needs, it’s a significant loss of electricity generating capacity.” The energy cost of this shortfall across the world’s installed solar capacity measures in the 10’s of gigawatts.
The electronic charge within the bulk of the silicon solar cell is transformed under sunlight, part of its energy-generating process. The team found that this transformation involves a highly effective ‘trap’ that prevents the flow of photo-generated electrons.
Dr Iain Crowe said: “This flow of electrons is what determines the size of the electrical current that a solar cell can deliver to a circuit, anything that impedes it effectively reduces the solar cell efficiency and amount of electrical power that can be generated for a given level of sunlight. We’ve proved the defect exists, it’s now an engineering fix that is needed.”
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Date: Jun 05, 2019 @ 15:30
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