A Breakthrough for Solar Cell Costs and Efficiency

Even though solar cell technology is similar in cost to conventional energy methods, a brand-new method of solar cell production is reducing costs even more


power is making headway in nearly every sector of society. Innovators across the globe and residents worldwide either currently enjoy the benefits of solar power or are gearing up to enjoy the perks of solar power in the near future. Particularly with concern over the environment and global warming, solar-powered solutions are giving many the hope that the perpetuating cycle of damage and environmental ruin can finally be put to rest. Powering homes and businesses with solar-powered resources is catching on quickly due to not just the environmental saving benefits, but also the efficiency and peace of mind that solar power offers. As if current innovations were not already enough for one to make the switch from traditional energy methods to solar, more breakthroughs in the solar sector continue to make solar power utterly superior to traditional energy methods.

Solar Cell Solutions

Even though solar cell technology is similar in price to conventional energy methods, a brand-new method of solar cell production is reducing costs even more. Rather than using the traditional silicon solar photovoltaic cells, or PV cells alone, a process called nano-texturing with dry etching turns the silicon into black silicon or black-Si. This process makes the solar panels more efficient, but has yet to be adopted on a larger scale due to several issues expanding grids of this type. It was found that the higher the surface area, the less efficient the solar energy.

To remedy this problem and find a solution, researchers at Aalto University discovered that by treating the surface area with an atomic layer deposition or ALD, the surface defects were eliminated. This combination of both black-Si solar cells and the ALD treatments has made it an impractical process to produce on a broad scale in terms of cost, until now. A new black-Si cell known as PERC or a passive emitter rear cell works in conjunction with the atomic layer disposition to provide proper solar energy on a larger scale. Joshua Pearce, a professor at Michigan Tech of both electrical engineering and material sciences, noted that while there is an increase in the production cost for these individual PERC cells, their efficiency astounded him. These particular solar cells reduce the overall cost per unit power by nearly 11%, a feature that gave Pearce particular confidence that this is a major breakthrough for the solar energy field.

A Glimpse into the Future

Pearce spoke strongly about these findings in an interview with Science Daily. He believes these breakthroughs mark a new turning point for solar energy production and make the already appealing benefits of solar power that much more enticing. The 10 percent drop in unit cost overall, as well as the increase in efficiency has Pearce convinced that this marks the beginning of the end of traditional forms of electricity and energy production. There has already been a high demand in most countries and regions for more efficient and cost-effective solar energy that can be implemented on a large scale. These latest solar power innovations are able to meet both of those standards. He envisions that international markets, along with the United States, will adopt solar cell technologies like passive emitter rear cells at an increasing rate.

The implications of this new solar cell innovation include not only reduced costs, but also the possibility for more widespread implementation of solar technology. It is possible, as we see more and more breakthroughs and improvements in the solar energy field, that traditional electricity and energy methods will soon become a thing of the past. Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful chemicals in our environment will hopefully see a shift. The hope in all of this is that the solar power movement will serve our energy needs in a way that no longer harms the planet we inhabit. Breakthroughs like this are particularly exciting for solar energy enthusiasts, but also for anyone who cares about the environment and wishes to protect it. We can now look forward with even more hope for the future that solar power will continue to transform the lives of people everywhere.




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