Perovskite and CIGS Semiconductors Could Boost Efficiency of Solar Modules

The tandem module technology is being developed as part of a study sponsored by the German Ministry of Economic Affairs

September 17, 2019


Combining thin-film solar modules based on perovskite semiconductors with semiconductors made of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS), solar module technology could cross the 30% efficiency mark, according to a study conducted by the Karls-ruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Nice Solar Energy, and the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW).

The study, called the Captiano Project, found that tandem solar modules which consist of two different types of modules in a layered array puts the solar spectrum to much better use than any single solar cell. The combination is said to be far more efficient. Multi-junction solar cells’ efficiency could extend beyond 30% in theory.

The perovskite solar cell in the CIGS-perovskite version can convert the light in the visible part of the solar spectrum into electricity. The CIGS solar cell can further absorb the light in the near-infrared spectrum that penetrates the perovskite solar cell. This technology is expected to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of solar projects.

Michael Powalla, ZSW board member, head of the Photovoltaics Division at ZSW and professor at KIT, said, “Given the wide spectrum of skills at work in this project ranging from fundamental science to mass manufacturing, I expect great advances to be made in the further development of this promising technology.”

Dr. Ulrich W. Paetzold, head of the junior research group at KIT, added, “We are developing the next generation of highly efficient thin-film tandem cells with an efficiency potential above 30 percent. Promising applications include highly efficient solar modules for building-integrated photovoltaic solutions, for example.”

The CIGS modules are being provided by NICE Solar Energy GmbH (Nice Solar), a German solar energy technology company. The study is being funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, who is providing approximately €5.2 million ($5.7 million) in funding. The project aims to develop cells with higher efficiency factors which are stable.

Recently, Mercom reported that a team of research scientists from the Australian National University had a breakthrough in the efficiency of solar cells.

Meanwhile, nearly a month ago, researchers at the French Centre de Nanosciences et de Nanotechnologies (C2N) collaborated with researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and others to efficiently capture the sunlight in a solar cell on an ultrathin absorbing layer made of 205 nm-thick gallium arsenide (GaAs) on a nanostructured back mirror. This new process of fabrication achieved an efficiency of nearly 20%.

Recently Mercom also reported on Rice University scientists designing arrays of aligned single-wall the carbon nanotubes to channel mid-infrared radiation and significantly raise the efficiency of solar energy systems. According to the research, the carbon nanotube can be just the device to make solar panels that lose energy through heat far more efficiently.