Solar panels will last more in the future

The Aalto University of Finland is coordinating a project to minimise the degradation of the solar panels through European Research Council funding with 850.000€ (1.17M$) the SOLARX project (Riddle of light-induced degradation in silicon photovoltaics). The sun provides enough energy in one minute to supply the world’s energy needs for one year, but turning this resource into affordable is difficult. The degradation of the solar panels is observed but not fully understood. Currently up to 20% or more of the efficiency is lost through the solar panel life-time.

Solar panels in a solar power plant. Picture: Activ Solar (Flickr)

Solar panels in a solar power plant. Picture: Activ Solar (Flickr)

The industry is trying to solve the issue by using better quality products and processes for the fabrication of the solar panels. The scientists of the Nano-Science Department at the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering in Finland are studying the possibility that the root cause for the degradation is related to the interaction of light with copper ions. Their experimental approach could lead to a rather simple solution in avoiding power loss: implementing charge on the surface to attract the copper ions, but the experiments take time since they have to prove that the solar panels last more after the experimentation, so it is not a straight-forward experiment-result process that started in 2012.

After hydroelectric and wind power, solar energy based on photovoltaics is the third most important renewable energy source, with more than 100GW of capacity installed globally, so this research may help to bring an energy revolution, based on reliable, efficient and sustainable source of energy one step closer.

The technologies and materials used in microelectronics and silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) solar cells have been converging in the recent years and Professor Helen Savin is coordinating the SOLARX project by applying her previous research to solve a problem in this new field.

Source: research*eu magazine