Solar Energy’s Evolution: Tandem Solar Cell Market Analysis and Trends
The global solar energy landscape is poised for a significant transformation as companies invest in cutting-edge technologies to boost the efficiency of solar cells. Tandem solar cells, a burgeoning class of thin-film photovoltaic cells, have emerged as a game-changer in this endeavor. These cells, designed to absorb a broader range of solar light, offer the promise of surpassing the efficiency limits of traditional single-junction silicon cells.
Investments Drive Innovation and Growth
Year-on-year increases in research and development investments in efficient energy systems, coupled with a decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, are propelling the demand for tandem solar cells. While achieving higher efficiency in single-junction devices is becoming increasingly challenging, tandem modules present a pathway to significant improvements. Notably, four-terminal CdTe/Si tandem solar modules have demonstrated the potential to achieve more than 26% module efficiency, sparking considerable interest in tandem solar technologies.
However, despite their promise, the mass production of tandem solar cells faces hurdles related to manufacturing technology and cost efficiency. These configurations demand precise technological sequences involving different layers, making each step critical to maintain structural integrity. Additionally, cost efficiency remains a factor when compared to matured technologies such as silicon-based solar cells.
COVID-19 Pandemic Impact
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted operations across various industries, including aviation, automotive, chemicals, oil & gas, and transportation. This led to delays and declines in research and development investments for solar technologies, impacting the large-scale production of tandem solar cells.
Lucrative Market Opportunities
Tandem cells with silicon are leading the pack with efficiencies exceeding 26%, surpassing other types such as organic, non-organic, and hybrid cells. Silicon combined with materials from the III-V group, CZTS, CIGS, perovskites, and polymers has shown promising outcomes. On the other hand, hybrid tandem cells, which combine different PV technologies, have efficiencies ranging from eight to more than seventeen percent. These cells, primarily used in semi-transparent and flexible modules, are inching closer to commercial viability thanks to ongoing research and development efforts.
Collaborative R&D Activities Fuel Growth
Collaborative research and development activities in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific are driving advancements in tandem solar cell technology. Notably, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology are making significant strides in the development of perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells. In Europe, efforts are underway to scale up the production of these novel cells, with the goal of achieving efficiencies exceeding 30% on a commercial scale.
In South Korea, the government is actively supporting R&D activities in the solar sector, with a particular focus on silicon and perovskite-based tandem solar cell technology. Public investments of approximately US$159.0 million over the next five years aim to boost efficiency to 26% by 2023 and 35% by 2030. South Korea is poised to become one of the most rewarding markets for tandem solar cells, thanks to strong government support and funding.
Key players in the tandem solar cell market include Saule Technologies, Tandem PV, Fraunhofer ISE, GreatCell Solar, Frontier Energy Solution, Oxford Photovoltaics, Xiamen Weihua Solar Co.,Ltd, Toshiba Corporation, Dyesol, and FrontMaterials. Oxford PV, in particular, made headlines in September 2020 by setting a new world record for conversion efficiency in perovskite solar technology. The company’s pilot line is consistently producing commercial-sized tandem solar cells for validation by development partners.
As the world embraces the potential of tandem solar cells to revolutionize the solar energy industry, these innovations are set to drive the transition towards a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.
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