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Weekend Read: As simple as IBC

The search for ever higher conversion efficiency has driven solar researchers to focus on back-contact cell approaches, and efforts to devise more cost-effective manufacturing are bringing technologies such as interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar into the mainstream, as Mark Hutchins reports.


Forecasting model to manage renewables-powered grids

Scientists in South Korea have developed a forecasting model to better manage electric grids with high penetration of intermittent renewables. The model was tested using historic data from Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland (PJM) grid in the United States, and shown to accurately forecast the availability of renewable energy resources up to one day in advance.


In search of the perfect polymer for PV backsheets, encapsulants

Scientists in Austria have examined the impact of different backsheet and encapsulant material combinations on module performance and degradation. This led them to develop a model to quantify the degradation rates of different materials, potentially helping manufacturers to identify better, longer-lasting materials for these vital module components.

Scratching the surface of silicon in tandem solar cells

German scientists have investigated the role of surface texturing in perovskite-silicon tandem cells and have found that several new processes offer the ability to etch smaller, more uniform textures onto the surface of a silicon cell than today’s industry standard. This could help to ease the subsequent growth of a perovskite cell on top of the silicon, enabling researchers and manufacturers to target higher performance.

Big wafer benefits extend to n-type, says Trina Solar

China’s Trina Solar has published a white paper on its latest n-type TOPCon modules, with cost calculations and figures from demonstration projects. The Chinese PV manufacturer claims better performance from its 210 mm cells than with other n-type products based on smaller, 182 mm cells.


New ‘cushion’ solution to take stress off perovskite solar cells

Scientists in Germany have discovered a polymer compound that, when added to perovskite thin-film precursor materials, wraps itself around the perovskite crystals, acting as a cushion to protect the perovskite structure from thermomechanical stress. They used the additive to fabricate cells with up to 24.6% efficiency, retaining 96% of their initial performance after accelerated testing equivalent to one year in the field.


A look into a crystal ball reveals the secrets of perovskite solar cell stability

Scientists in Switzerland and South Korea looked deep into the crystalline structure of a perovskite thin-film to better understand the mechanisms behind the sensitivity to heat and moisture that causes so many stability issues for solar cells based on these materials. They discovered a part of the crystal’s surface that is particularly vulnerable to moisture-induced degradation, and developed an approach to grow perovskite thin-films with strong resistance to moisture and thermal stress.

Africa closing in on gigawatt-level solar

Solar installations across Africa hit 949 MW in 2022, bringing cumulative capacity past the 10 GW mark, according to the African Solar Industry Association (AFSIA). While that may seem underwhelming for such a huge region, it shows that countries are taking big steps toward realizing the entire continent’s PV potential.

Soiling – a multibillion-dollar issue

A new report by the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA-PVPS) estimates that lost revenue from PV module soiling amounts to more than €3 billion ($3.2 billion) per year – an amount that is only set to increase as PV systems grow larger and more efficient.


Pathways for perovskite PV

Perovskite solar cells have created excitement in recent years, given their potential to improve virtually every area of PV, but we have yet to see such devices produced at scale. Scientists in Australia have outlined some of the challenges holding them back.

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