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Scientists Show how Stacking Solar Cells can Boost Energy Generated

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Published on : Dec 15, 2015

The global thin film solar cells market is a booming one. With a high 9.4% CAGR estimated for between 2015 and 2023, the global thin film solar cells market is expected to reach US$20.995 bn by the end of 2023. While the market was valued at only US$9.392 bn in 2014, – a relatively low value for a market set to be one of the top valued markets in the future – the technological advancements that have allowed this massive growth rate have been occurring in the past decade or so. Early solar cells were merely constructed using silicon compounds in various crystalline arrangements. Modern solar cells utilize amorphous silicon, along with compounds such as copper indium gallium selenide and cadmium telluride. 

Today’s economies are facing the brunt of depleting stockpiles of conventional fuel resources such as coal. Although the current surplus of crude could create a global advantage in terms of cheapening gasoline prices, the long term energy scenario still remains bleak without the intervention of the renewable energy industry. Solar energy specifically possesses advantages such as low manufacturing cost, zero carbon emission, and long-term usability of solar panels.

On the lines of improving the global thin film solar cells market comes a new idea generated by researchers at Empa. Their theory of stacking two solar cells on each other could provide the boost that the global thin film solar cells market needed. According to the research, energy is harvested in two stages instead of one, creating a greater magnitude of electricity generation. These tandem solar cells that use a thin layer of perovkite between them give the global thin film solar cells market a massive advantage, as they can operate from as low as 50 degrees Celsius and are extremely low in production costs.

The stacked cells work in tandem. The upper layer converts large energy photon into electricity like an ordinary solar cell and is semi-transparent. The bottom layer converts the remaining low energy photons to optimize the energy conversion ratio. While this technology was previously employed for solar cells used in space, the material used for them was unfeasible for mass production in a commercial level. The new advancements have successfully eliminated the need for expensive materials and created something that can help increase energy efficiency.