A holistic approach
The researchers were aware that superior efficiency under laboratory conditions alone was not enough. In order for the new solar cells to conquer the market, they also need to be economically viable, sustainable and, last but not least, also attractive – only with these qualities will they have the chance of large-scale use. For this reason, three of the six sub-projects focussed on the practical usage options of the new technology.
A key question here is what the electricity yield will be under real weather and radiation conditions. In order to calculate this, the researchers developed a toolbox comprising computer models that simulate the entire electricity production chain, ranging from the physics of the solar cells to the operation of the system at a specific location. The simulation tools can be used both for research purposes as well as for the planning of solar panels with the new technology.
With the new generation of solar systems, the researchers want to increasingly utilise the potential offered by building surfaces. Here, in addition to the roofs, the facades should also produce electricity – the concept is referred to as building-integrated photovoltaics (BiPV). Advancing this idea was the objective of another sub-project. To this end, the researchers developed electricity-generating facade modules that combine sustainability with aesthetics. With attractive colours and textures, these solar panels offer new design options for the architectural sector.
The unobtrusive solar facades are very well received by the population – according to one of the results from the sixth sub-project. This assessed the sustainability of the new solar cells from an economic, environmental and social perspective. As part of the sub-project, the researchers also investigated strategies for how the electricity grid can in future accept the large share of solar electricity. Overall, this comprehensive analysis gives rise to a positive forecast with respect to the feasibility of the perovskite solar cells – on the condition that they have a sufficient service life.