Perovskite and organic solar are promising new solar technology as they offer excellent performance in a thinner and lighter fashion in contrast to existing solar cells, with relatively extensive application range at the same time, and now their application fields have been expanded to space, where scientists have completed testing for perovskite and organic solar.
Crystalline solar has been the leading technology in the photovoltaic field for the past few decades. The primary factor that enables the cost of renewable energy to be able to compete with traditional fossil fuel power stations comes from the increasingly developed technology of crystalline solar and its reducing cost. However, as technology constantly progresses, perovskite and organic solar may perhaps replace crystalline solar as the new king in market share.
Perovskite has a similar degree of power generation efficiency as crystalline solar, which surged from 3% to roughly 24% within 10 years. Perovskite solar is able to generate power under the sun or low indoor light, whereas the advantages of organic solar lie on the light, flexible, and affordable materials, despite its low conversion efficiency.
In terms of process technology, both perovskite and organic solar are rich in resources and low in cost, and can be deposited on thin and flexible base plates and glass, for which the feature can be utilized by scientists to produce bendable solar panels that can be installed on curved exterior walls, roofs, or even automobiles and clothes.
Technical University of Munich also discovered that these two solar technologies can be developed into space by having installed perovskite and organic solar on a sounding rocket that embarked on a suborbital round trip from Northern Sweden to an altitude of 240km.
The research team pasted 1kg of solar cell comprehensively on an aluminum plate that is expected to light up 300 standard 100W light bulbs. As indicated by the experiment, these light and thin solar cells are able to withstand extreme conditions, including rocket launches and space flights, and convert sun light into power within 7 minutes. Peter Müller-Buschbaum, senior author at TUM, commented that the focus of this study is not the conversion efficiency of solar cell, but the power generation per unit area, which is the specific power, and the specific power for these solar cells are 7-14mw/cm².
The research team also discovered that these solar cells are also able to absorb the diffuse light reflected from the earth’s surface, thus they are still capable of power generation even if they are getting further from the sun. Müller pointed out that this has verified that the specific cells can be used for deep space flight missions, which is something unattainable by existing crystalline solar.
Nonetheless, 7 minutes isn’t really all that long, and the research team will be attempting to install perovskite and organic solar cells on satellites in the future.
(Cover photo is a sketch, source: pixabay)