Coming in 2023, Organic Solar Cells That Can Work Indoors Too

Highlights :

  • Organic solar cells, with their flexibility and improved conversion rates, have the potential to take solar to places it has not been seen in yet.
  • With the latest cells promising the solar efficiency of silicon cells from a decade back, it is a good bet that we will see some success stories soon.

Organic Solar Cells. On The Periphery Till Now

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Less space, shrinking rooftops & increasing energy consumption are also driving innovations in the solar space. One such is the organic solar cell. It is an advanced & innovative form of thin-film solar cell. Plastic sheets are used instead of a backseat in Organic solar cells & PV material is printed on that with other bendable substrates. That is the reason for their being exponentially lighter than silicon solar cells. However, a major drawback has been the lower efficiency, which barely touched 10% all these years. Some of that is finally set to change, with production at scale along with the versatility of these organic solar cells offering new avenues for deployment.

The Use case

A thin, flexible alternative to silicon-based solar cells that can be mass produced is expected to allow renewable energy to be used for more applications such as powering indoor smart devices. Aside from their efficiency indoors, organic solar cells may be manufactured in a variety of shades, making them easier to blend with interior furniture. They are also free of lead and other environmentally harmful compounds.

The traditional solar cell is made of silicon & doesn’t work indoor places, but these organic cells’ generation efficiency does not drop when used indoors.

In 2010, the US-based Research Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology has done very different research on increasing the performance of optoelectronic devices. The research showed that the use of piezoelectric materials could improve the performance of optoelectronic devices (worked just like PV cells).

With this background, a research team from Ritsumeikan University, Japan has invented a thin-film flexible piezoelectric-photovoltaic device. These solar PV cells can convert LEDs and compact fluorescent lights that gave interior light into electricity solely.

The device, which is paper-thin and only 10 mm long, was formed by layering thin ZnMgO layers. ZnMgo & selenium (Se) are the major raw material used for these films, which is the reason for the flexibility of these PET plastic films. The main benefit of this film is, that can easily absorb indoor ambient light. Being thin and flexible, these devices require less space and can be used in various forms.

Finally, Mass Production In Sight

A German startup, Heliatek plans to begin scale manufacturing of organic solar PV cells as soon as this year. A Japanese company, Ricoh intends to produce these cells on a smaller scale beginning in fiscal 2023. Still, each square meter of organic cell weighs less than 2 kilograms, which will be dropping to less than 1 kg next year, according to industry people.

Sweden’s Epishine, a pioneer in organic solar PV cells, expects to hit the market with its modules in December. They have a conversion efficiency of 13% and a life span of about 10 years. The startup says the modules can be used for temperature and humidity controls, card readers, and fire alarms.

Japanese electronics business expects to generate 100 square meters of organic solar cells in the next financial year. This will be sufficient to power around 50,000 tiny smart gadgets.

A French business, Dracula Technologies is working on film-like organic solar cells that do not rely on pricey rare-earth metals. By 2024, mass production is expected to begin. Dracula Technologies raised 2.4 million euros in startup funding from individual investors in 2020. Outside, the conversion efficiency can reach 13%, and the cells can last up to ten years.

Following BIPV, this solar industry breakthrough has the potential to be a revolution for this era, since consumers now have more alternatives for using solar than just standard solar panels.
From 2021 to 2035, the global market for organic solar cells is expected to rise fivefold to more than $500 million. Organic solar cells have a lot of potential for advancement, which gives companies a lot of hope.

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