Doping Solar Cells | Perovskite Tech Upgrade!

Doping solar cells – Swinburne University have been making big improvements on their research in upgrading efficiency of perovskite solar cells. Let’s read more.

Doping Solar Cells | Perovskite Tech Upgrade!

Swinburne University have been working in conjunction with Wuhan University of Technology in China, the University of Melbourne, and the University of Adelaide. Their research is to do with ‘doping solar cells’ – using sunlight as a ‘healing process’ to improve cell efficiency and stability. ‘Doping’ perovskite solar cells with potassium is having a big effect on increasing stability and efficiency of the solar cells. 

We’ve written extensively about the potential that perovskite solar cells could have – potentially overcoming Shockley–Queisser limit (33.7% at 1.34 eV) means that the theoretical conversion limit silicon based solar cells has could be improved upon.

As per Wikipedia, Perovskite tech has been moving along in leaps and bounds over the past 5 years:

Solar cell efficiencies of devices using these materials have increased from 3.8% in 2009[3] to 24.2% in 2019 in single-junction architectures,[4] and, in silicon-based tandem cells, to 28.0%,[4] exceeding the maximum efficiency achieved in single-junction silicon solar cells.

With the potassium ‘doping’, the sunlight starts to repair ‘interface traps’:

“Sunlight becomes a trigger for the positive formation of potassium bromide-like compounds, eliminating the interface traps and stabilising the mobile ions, thus resulting in improved power conversion efficiency,” Dr Weijian Chen, an early career researcher at Swinburne, noted in comments on the Swinburne website.

“This research contributes to the rationalisation of the improved performance and guides future design protocol of better solar cells.” Dr Xiaoming Wen, senior research fellow at Swinburne continued.

“The demonstrated solar cell characterisation methods are at the cutting edge, and will help our industry partners develop a new protocol for commercial perovskite solar cells.” Director of Swinburne’s newly founded Centre of Translational Atomaterials (CTAM), Professor Baohua Jia said about the technology.

If you’d like to read more, the research, funded by the Australian Research Council under the Discovery Project program, has been published in Advanced Energy Materials.

 

Read More Solar News:

Solar glass shopping centre – Vicinity Centres/ClearVue.

Australia’s largest retail landlord, Vicinity Centres, has partnered with innovative solar glass company ClearVue Technology to install transparent solar panels (solar glass) to help their shopping centre’s environmental footprint and potentially save money on energy.

Solar Glass – Vicinity Centres partner with ClearVue 

We’ve written about ClearVue Technology quite a few times on this website, from their solar bus shelters to commercial solar windows, the company have been working hard bringing their integrated clear glass solar panel to market in Australia and overseas.

The company have now partnered with Vicinity Centres to install solar glass in its Warwick Grove shopping centre atrium entry. The solar glass atrium has 26 solar cells inbuilt, which generate up to 1MW. It also works as insulation – with materials inside the window deflecting energy to small PV cells at the edge of the screen. This solar window tech is something we’ve been very excited about for a long time so it it’s amazing to watch it enjoying some real world application! 

According to ClearVue, this is the first commercial installation of fully transparent solar cell glass in the entire world. The solar atrium will power lighting, outside signage, a digital display screen within the centre, and it’ll send any excess energy to battery storage at night. So it’s a pretty far cry from actually powering the shopping centre, but that’s not really the point right now. 

“While other products exist, these are typically optically distorted or coloured, or they are not yet commercially available and are still in the research and pre-commercialisation stages,” a ClearVue spokesman said in quotes to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Solar Glass - Vicinity and ClearVue Technologies (source: clearvuepv.com)
Solar Glass – Vicinity and ClearVue Technologies (source: clearvuepv.com)

The Vicinity Centres general manager for shopping centre management, Justin Mills, was also very excited about the new installation:

“(the solar atrium) reinvents the way we harvest renewable energy, reduces our exposure to the volatile energy market and our carbon footprint – a key focus for Vicinity.

“We’re excited to be trialling such innovative, leading-edge technology and embarking on a global-first in solar energy application.” he continued.

If you’d like to read more about solar power installed at shopping centres, take a look at the Stockland Solar Power Rollout – which will see 12.3MW installed across 10 shopping centres in Australia.

You can also read about Vicinity Centres’ solar project – which is the investment of $28m to install 11.2MW of solar power in five shopping centres.

According to Smallcaps, ClearVue Technologies have also signed a a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Grafsol General Trading for exclusive distribution rights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. 

“This MoU represents a great opportunity for ClearVue to break into the Middle Eastern region,” said Victor Rosenberg, executive chairman of ClearVue Technologies.

We’ll report more about ClearVue in the middle east next week! 

Have a great weekend.

Read More Solar News:

Recycling Solar Panels | What to do with old solar panels.

Recycling solar panels is a topic which will be a lot more prevalent as the initial ‘wave’ panels begin to reach their end of life. Let’s take a look at what the plans are for trying to minimise the environmental impact and maximise the value  of a used solar panel.

Recycling Solar Panels | Will there be a waste crisis for old panels?

Australia has one of the highest PV solar uptakes in the world. There are plenty of us who have had solar installed for a long time. So long, in fact, that people are talking about end of life strategies to dispose of/ repurpose solar panels, so that they don’t cause a problem for the environment. 

Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel has been crusading for the implementation of such strategies for solar panels, calling it a ‘systemic problem’:

“We’ve had a solar panel industry for years which is an important environmental initiative, and it should have been incumbent on government to act in concert with the growth of the industry so we have an environmentally responsible end-of-life strategy,” he said in a quote to the Sydney Morning Herald.

We’ve written previously about solar panel recycling and, although it’s good to see things like the ELSi project in Germany, there’s still a ways to go before we figure out the best way forward to recycle solar waste.

Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels
Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels (source: reclaimpv.com)

According to the director of Reclaim PV (the only dedicated photovoltaic recycler in Australia), Clive Fleming, they company recycles 90 per cent of materials in a panel. The company has been lobbying for state bans on landfill disposal of solar panels. 

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Peter Schmigel also had a quote in the SMH about how a proper plan for recycling PV cells could have a positive effect on the economy:

“Recovery rates have been out of sight since the beginning of the scheme, nobody has said anything at all about there being an inbuilt recycling cost. It generates jobs, it generates environmental outcomes and yet for some reason we have policymakers who are hesitant about [establishing similar schemes] for solar PVs and batteries,” he said.

We expect over the coming year or two we’ll hear a lot more about this, with Sustainability Victoria working on a ‘national approach to photovoltaic product stewardship’, with their recommendations presented to the environment ministers around the middle of this year. 

Victoria have already announced they’ll ban electronic waste in landfill from July 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see if/how the other states follow suit.
 

Read More Solar News:

GreatCell Solar Enters Administration

Last month one of Australia’s longest running solar tech companies, GreatCell Solar, went into administration after the double blow of the death of their lead scientist and a failure to secure funding for its Dye Solar Cells prototype facility. 

GreatCell Solar Calls In Administrators

GreatCell Solar have unfrotunately had to call in administrators in December 2018 due to the death of their chief scientist and a problem with funding.

“The decision follows a series of unfortunate and unwelcome developments in recent weeks, including the untimely death of chief scientist Dr Hans Desilvestro in a mountaineering accident on 10 November,” Greatcell (ASX:GSL) told investors in mid-December. 

According to Stockhead, GreatCell has developed a third generation photovoltaic (PV) technology called Dye Solar Cells (DSC). DSCs are based on dye-sensitised films and are able to convert any visible light (including indoor low light) into electricity. They have been trying to get more funding for the tech but they’ve had problems with that too.

GreatCell Funding Fail

“Despite a global search and chasing down every potential funding opportunity, GSL has not been able to attract sufficient long-term equity investment,” the solar company said in a statement published on RenewEconomy:

“This is an extremely disappointing outcome for Greatcell Solar, its directors, employees and shareholders given the considerable investment already undertaken over many years to achieve an advanced, pre-commercialisation status for its 3rd generation photovoltaic technology.

“The Company is widely considered amongst its international peers to be pre-eminent in the field of Perovskite Solar Cell PV technology” the statement continues.

In late 2007 GreatCell were the recipients of a $6m ARENA grant to help fund research into perovskite solar cell technology. Unfortunately it appears that they’re somewhat stymied at the moment – but they still have a tech roadmap up on their website which leads us to still have some hope:

GreatCell Solar
GreatCell Solar Technology Roadmap (source: greatcellsolar.com.au)

Perovskite solar cells are gaining traction lately and this is the tech used in these prototypes. No word yet on what’s going to happen to Greatcell in 2019, but its statement didn’t leave a surfeit of hope: 

“With the appointment of Administrators, BRI Ferrier, the outlook for shareholders is uncertain at best” it reads. Fingers crossed they’re able to secure some more funding and get back to work with a new team. 

Read More Solar News:

Solar Panel Roads in Australia / Efficiency

Solar panel roads – today we’ll take a look at how research and trials for solar panel roads are going, and what the future looks like for solar highways. Will we ever see solar highways in Australia (or anywhere else, for that matter)? 

Solar Panel Roads

We’ve already written extensively about solar roads and the various trials they’re currently in the middle of:

However there are three main problems with solar roads at the moment – price, performance, and safety. It’s still exorbitantly expensive to come up (the price per kW of all the current solar roads is up to $~2000 per kilowatt) with these road solar cells which perform significantly worse than their roofed brethren. Since the panels don’t have a tilt and need to be housed underneath something strong and load-bearing, this cuts efficiency significantly. And if 5% of a panel is shaded, this can reduce power generation by up to 50%. It’s assumed that dirt, dust, and traffic will exacerbate this – so we need a way to make the initial panels cheaper and/or more effective if solar roads are ever going to be a real possibility. 

Solar Panel Roads in Australia

Solar Panel Roads in Australia
Solar Panel Roads in Australia? (source: solarroadways.com)

Would these solar panel roads work in Australia? News.com.au have a great article about solar road technology, where they  discuss how expensive the current trials are and what the future for this technology could be:

The article quotes Dr. Andrew Thomson, a solar researcher at Australian National University. 

“It’s a really attractive looking idea,” Dr Thomson said. But while “it’s technically feasible, it’s very expensive. I don’t really think there’s a market for it, the opportunity cost is very much against it”.

We’ll keep you updated with progress on how solar road resarch is going along – but perhaps it’s just not the best place to put solar panels as Dylan Ryan, lecturer in Mechanical & Energy Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University told news.com.au: “…solar roads on city streets are just not a great idea”

 

Read More Solar News: