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Amongst various renewable alternatives, solar energy witnessed a phenomenal rise in popularity, primarily because it is free of cost and abundantly available.
Consequently, in the past few years, the technology has transformed into the world’s fastest-growing source of energy, with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed every 4 minutes. You can find solar panels covering the rooftops of numerous buildings as well as several large-scale solar farms. However, the technology has been plagued by a few glaring drawbacks.
While silicone, used in almost all the commercial solar cells, is cheap and abundant, the panels are still bulky. The technology is also costlier than fossil fuels. Moreover, one of the most significant limitations of PV is that they harness only a fraction of the power emitted by the sun. Despite the fact that more energy from the sun strikes the Earth’s surface than utilized by the entire global population every year.
For solar energy to replace the fossil fuels completely, the technology needs to become affordable by almost one-fourth of its current cost as well as far more efficient. The evident requirements and pitfalls of solar system led to a host of innovative technologies:
The scope of solar energy and its technology
There has been a rising interest in and market expansion for the solar panels, owing to the promise of a far cleaner and reliable energy source. The solar technology is also constantly evolving to meet the ongoing demands for a better alternative to fossil fuels.
However, the energy contribution from the sun is still limited to a small percentage of the total power consumed globally. Consequently, scientists across the globe were on a quest to find a material for PV that can absorb more energy from the solar photon.
Breakthrough research helmed by Professor Henry Snaith at the University of Oxford discovered a cutting-edge PV technology, manufactured from a crystalline material called perovskite. The compound, synthesized from abundantly available elements, is an excellent semiconductor with enhanced efficiency as compared to silicone panels. In fact, the perovskite solar cells can now achieve the efficiency of 22.7%, which has increased from only 3.8% in 2009. The remarkable fact, which further buoys the unprecedented progress, is that these panels are one of the cheapest options currently available.