Finding a better material for the solar panels is one way by which solar efficiency could be improved.
Traditional silicon solar panels could be replaced by perovskites — a mineral composed of titanium, oxygen and calcium. This could result in a huge improvement in solar efficiency as perovskite panels require less material and can be created in thin layers.
After more than ten years of R&D on perovskite panels, their efficiency rose from 2% to 25%, which is better than the most efficient silicon panels on the market today.
But while you might say, “well, problem solved then”, as with everything in life, things are rarely that simple.
A major benefit of solar PV panels is that they have lifespans of upwards of 25 years before seeing a drop-off in their efficiency.
The main stumbling block for perovskites is durability, and they tend to have a much shorter lifespan than their silicon based cousins.
They tend to be fragile, which is not something that will have to be addressed if they are ever to replace solar panels with silicon.
But research is ongoing, and tests are being constantly carried out on how to improve the durability of perovskite. Recent tests have found that adding organometallic compounds could increase their durability and efficiency.
We’ll have to wait and see, but for now, they are closing in on silicon and with a few tweaks, they could be the norm in the not-so-distant future.