Solar Cell Efficiency Is Better Than People Understand

Written by: Kevin GardnerPeople want to use solar power, especially as they can buy solar cells to go on their home. They get told, by various sources, that these cells are inefficient. While current photovoltaic technology that can be purchased may not sound efficient, it is more than enough to power a home. With a battery system, there is no need to draw power from the grid. That said, there are technologies in development that may add to the efficiency. Most experts agree that some of these are coming, it is just a matter of perfecting the problems that come with any new technology.

Understand Efficiency

One of the first things to understand is how do solar panels work.The panels get energy from photons, which is only able to produce power via twenty and a little over percent of them. That means that over three quarters of the photons that hit a panel is actually strong enough to bring power. Silicon is the primary substance for this. Silicon has to be bonded with another chemical to provide the electrons, or lack of, to start the process. While there are other substances available, this is the safest way. The higher end the panel, the more efficient.


There is a substance that scientists have found that raises efficiency greatly, mostly because of the atomic structure. This substance is perovskite. While it has shown to be much better for solar cells, it has two drawbacks. The current iteration that has shown usefulness has toxic lead, but they are working to use a tin based version. The other issue is that it degrades quickly in the rain. This was especially bad when it was lead based. This could increase the efficiency up to thirty percent, if using a conventional design. There are other designs that could be more.

Design implementation

The current solar cells work reliably. There are better designs, but they just requires testing and perfecting. One design uses a dual layer approach that is called a tandem solar cell. This uses one layer with silicon and another layer with another substance, usually perovskite. The efficiency is raised to over forty percent this way. Another is called multi-junction. This increases the amount of silicon through various means. This could raise it to over thirty. There are other designs, but those two are the closest to commercial viability. Each design takes time to test and get costs to where they are viable.

Other Concerns

There are many designs and chemical compoundsthat are able to increase the efficiency percentages for solar cells. Some of the concerns come because of the rarity of the chemicals. Some cost quite a bit to manufacture. Others are too toxic to implement. Scientists and engineers are working on the problem, but people need to understand this when hearing about solar cells. The best place to test many designs is with space programs, but that means extends to the timeline. Trade and patent issues also cause problems in this endeavor.There are solar cells that are going to raise the efficiency of solar cells. Cells currently available have gotten better, which will help even more. The science is new compared to many, so people do not need to worry that this is an issue. Once someone understands the basics, then hearing people complaining about how efficient current cells are will allow for counters to their argument.Related: Everything You Need to Know About Solar Panels