Buildings, particularly those with glass facades, are getting closer to self-powering, according to Australian scientists who recently developed a 15.5%-efficient, semi-transparent solar cell that allows more than 20% of visible light to pass through.
The development of semitransparent solar cells that can transform windows into active power generators continues to progress. A team of Australian researchers have produced next-generation perovskite cells with a conversion efficiency of 15.5%, in order to increase the stability of “solar windows,” while allowing more natural light to pass through.
The researchers, based at Victoria’s Monash University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), had previously developed semi-transparent perovskite solar cells (ST-PeSCs) that allowed 10% of visible light to pass through, while simultaneously achieving a 17% power conversion efficiency. Non-transparent silicon rooftop cells operate at about 20% efficiency.
The same team, led by Professor Jacek Jasieniak from Monash University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has now developed new formulations of cells that use a combination of caesium and formamidinium in the initial perovskite composition. Power conversion efficiencies of 15.5% and 4.1% have been achieved this way for different prototype cells, with average visible transmittance of 20.7% and 52.4%, respectively.
While the power conversion rates are lower than previous results, Jasieniak said the amount of visible light being passing through the cells is now approaching levels suited to glazing, which increases their potential to be used in a wide range of real-world applications.
“This work provides a major step forward towards realizing high efficiency and stable perovskite devices that can be deployed as solar windows to fulfill what is a largely untapped market opportunity,” he said.
The researchers said the caesium and formamidinium ST-PeSCs also demonstrated excellent long-term stability when tested under continuous illumination and heating. The research results, recently published in Advanced Science, show that the caesium and formamidinium based ST-PeSCs maintained 85% of their initial power conversion efficiency after 1,000 hours under continuous illumination. This makes them attractive candidates for scalable device manufacturing.
While the use of solar glazing in real-life applications is in its infancy, it is increasingly being considered by developers. Victorian architecture firm Kennon, for example, recently announced plans to clad an eight-floor building in Melbourne with a “solar skin.” And West Australian solar-glass developer ClearVue also recently signed a deal to complete its first commercial installation in the United States.
Separately, ClearVue said earlier this month that it had signed a letter of intent with LabReal to install its transparent solar glass technology at an office building in Atlanta, Georgia. The project will use 250 square meters of ClearVue PV glazing. The project is now in the final stages of planning, with construction expected to start during the fourth quarter of 2022.
ClearVue Executive Chairman Victor Rosenberg said the project is the company’s first commercial installation in North America. It will serve as a reference site to secure larger sales in the region.
“The ClearVue technology represents a paradigm shift in the way glass will be used in building construction,” he said. “Glass will no longer be just a component of construction, but also a renewable energy source and a key element in construction decarbonisation efforts – both for refurbishments and for new builds. The Atlanta project will demonstrate this and provide a key reference site for the company in this target territory.”
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