These materials were meant to revolutionize the solar industry. Why hasn’t it happened?

But stability remains a difficult challenge.

In a recent study published in Science in April, researchers discovered a new way to build Perovskite solar cells with additives that improve efficiency and lifespan. The cells were able to withstand 1,500 hours of high heat and humidity in the laboratory.

The problem is translating these results into the real world. Researchers find it difficult to simulate real-world conditions, and while silicone has set a high bar, many manufacturers guarantee that their panels will maintain 80% of their performance for 30 or 40 years.

In a recent field test, researchers found that perovskite-based cells function at more than 90% of their initial levels after a few months. But losing about 10% of cell performance in that period will not reduce it.

The second is that all these tests have been performed using small cells. Measuring parasites and building large cells that can be tied together into full-size solar panels often leads to shocks in efficiency and lifespan.

These challenges, Green says, mean that the day when the Perovskites occupy the solar markets is not close at hand, or inevitable, as some researchers point it out, Green says.

Fine-tuning parasites can eventually enable these solar cells to survive under normal operating conditions for decades, with methods such as adding stabilizers and protecting them from the elements, says Latin Dow, a Perovskite researcher at Purdue University. But he predicts it will take a decade or more before Perovskites make meaningful commercial progress.

Despite the challenges, there is a real need for different types of solar cells. Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, says this is especially true when demand for solar materials is rising.

And perovskites do not need to compete directly with silicone, as they can be used in tandem cells, where a layer of perovskite is stacked on top of the silicon cell. Because the two materials receive different wavelengths of light, they can complement each other.

None of this is likely to happen unless a person can make perovskite solar cells that are more stable. But certainly, researchers do not break the promise. As Green puts it, “There’s still a chance someone will really nail it.”

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