Commercial development of cheap, printable and Australian made perovskite solar cells received a boost this week, after local outfit Greatcell Solar was awarded a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
In an ASX announcement on Tuesday, Greatcell said it had been awarded the $6 million ARENA grant as part of a $17.3 million project to develop a world-class plant to scale up the fabrication of high quality, large-area perovskite devices.
Queanbeyan-based Greatcell says it plans to commercialise its perovskite solar cells as a potential alternative to conventional silicon cell technology, and in a form that can applied to building materials like glass and metal sheeting.
The latest ARENA grant follows the July signing of a non-exclusive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with JinkoSolar, giving the China-based solar PV manufacturer access to Greatcell’s perovskite technology, with the aim of forming a partnership to establish large scale manufacturing and commercialise the technology.
As we have reported here before, perovskite solar cells have been much hyped for their potential to be manufactured very cheaply using established industrial processes, as well as for their potential ease of application.
In Australia, Greatcell – formerly Dyesol – has been a leader in the advancement of the technology, and in notching up conversion efficiency increases, alongside the National Renewable Energy Agency in the US.
But the technology has also been plagued with stability and durability issues, with the material sensitive to moisture contact and high efficiency perovskite cells exhibiting high degradation rates.
A previous ARENA grant of $450,000 in support of Greatcell’s work went towards demonstrating that perovskite solar cells could be both efficient and stable.
In a statement on Tuesday, ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Greatcell’s perovskite technology was a step towards the potential for ubiquitous, low cost solar.
“This has the potential to expand the applications for which solar can be used and to reduce costs,” Frischknecht said.
“We want to move perovskites closer towards commercialisation. This will help accelerate solar PV innovation in Australia, which is one of our key priorities.”
Greatcell Solar managing director Richard Caldwell said ARENA’s financial support would help demonstrate that perovskite technology was a strong candidate for commercialisation.
“It has the compelling attributes of lower cost and greater versatility than existing PV technologies. In particular, it is suited to real world solar conditions,” Caldwell said.
“In the long term, this technology has the potential to provide a cost competitive and clean energy solution,” he said.