Perovskite research could slash cost of renewables

Perovskite technology Image credit: Nanyang Technological University
Perovskite technology Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

Australian researchers have accelerated the development of perovskite solar photovoltaic cells; an innovative technology with the potential to reduce the cost of renewable energy.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing up to $892,000 to support CSIRO to develop and apply guidelines for assessing the performance of perovskite solar PV cells, which have the potential to be a cheaper competitor to traditional silicon cells, with comparable efficiency and adaptability.

“If perovskite solar cell technology matures to commercialisation, it has the potential to provide cheaper power from the sun,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

“The international standards for measuring solar PV cell performance were established at a time when only silicon wafer cells were available. CSIRO is now aiming to establish new methods and guidelines applicable to cells using perovskite materials.

“A standard approach to measuring the performance of new solar cell technologies will provide a level playing field for researchers and ensure funding support is directed at the materials and fabrication processes with the greatest potential for success.”

CSIRO would apply the new guidelines at the ARENA-supported PV Performance Laboratory in Newcastle, the first and only lab in the Southern Hemisphere internationally-accredited to measure solar PV cell performance.

According to Mr Frischknecht, this capability will allow Australian researchers to test perovskite samples on local shores instead of sending them overseas, speeding up research and reducing risk and costs.

The solar research community has been getting behind the endeavour. Members of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics and international research agencies have provided letters of support and offers of cell samples that will be used to develop best practice methods.

“Internationally accredited laboratories will validate test results and CSIRO will collaborate with overseas counterparts to develop best practice methods suitable for different research laboratory environments,” Mr Frischknecht said.

The three-year, $2.4 million project is due for completion in November 2018.