Breakthroughs in New Solar Technology - World Economic Forum

Challenging the Silicon Based PV Industry

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February 29, 2020


- The PV industry is dominated by silicon-based technology

- Perovskite-based PV cells use an ultra-thin layer of material, and this allows perovskite to be cost competitive

According to estimates, by 2050 we will need energy for 10 billion people, and this will be around 30TW. Our current energy demand is approximately 16 Terawatts (TW). The global shift to sustainable energy has made photovoltaics (PV) one of the main alternatives in the renewables space. In some parts of the word, PV technology has achieve grid parity in some parts of the world. The costs for solar energy have already fallen 77% from 2010 to 2018 due to an annual growth rate of 7.9% in renewables.

The Emergence of New Materials

Silicon based PV cells, is first generation technology that has dominated the market. Today a new source of sustainable solar energy is under development that could have a low energy payback time, and a cost that could see it deployed widely. This technology is based on nano-structured or carbon-based materials or organic-based solar cells. In particular, perovskite has been a material of particular interest to the Solar PV community due to their excellent semiconducting behavior, ease of manufacture and high level of efficiency.


Perovskite solar cells have made stunning progress within a short timeframe at the laboratory scale. However the technology is not fully commercially ready. Among the issues are the cells’ durability, stability, poor stability in humid air and the risk that these devices may release lead, a highly toxic element, to the environment.

Source: This new solar technology can be printed or woven into fabric, World Economic Forum

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