A new mineral is being used for solar panels that could greatly improve the efficiency of solar panels. Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral found in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the 1800’s. Excitement about this mineral has grown due to its efficiency, unusual properties, and its low cost.
Perovskite reacts to a wider range of visible light frequencies, ultimately meaning it can convert more sunlight to energy than a typical silicon-based Photovoltaic (PV) cell. PV panels are currently seeing efficiency rates of around 19%-21% with the possible limit of around 29%. Perovskite panels could see efficiency rates as high as 35% or more.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced funding to support Research and Development for PV energy applications, including perovskite. It is currently cheaper to produce Perovskite but it is less durable than traditional silicon-based photovoltaics. Hybrid panels could allow for greater panel efficiency while still delivering a long life.