Testing qualitatively new solar cells based on organic materials and pervovskite in space conditions is one of the steps towards the transition of the earth to solar energy, the creation of a fleet of orbital tugs and orbital solar power plants.
On August 12, at the request of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), a test was carried out on photocells based on perovskite and polymers. On a suborbital, meteorological rocket that took off 240 kilometers above the ground.
The purpose of the experiment was to evaluate the efficiency of photocells based on perovskite and polymers in space conditions.
Now in solar energy on earth, and in space solar panels, silicon-based solar cells are mainly used. The first solar cells were silicon, since then they have traditionally been used in solar energy. The advantages of silicon solar cells, in their durability, their production technologies are well developed.
The main disadvantages of silicon solar cells are their high price and high weight. They do not provide an opportunity to actively develop solar energy on earth, due to the high price and long payback periods of solar panels. And they limit the use of solar energy in space, due to the large weight of solar cells and their low efficiency in terms of weight.
The production of silicon solar cells is a complex and energy-intensive process. For several decades of production, silicon solar cells have been well mastered in industry, have reached high efficiency, their efficiency has reached 15 – 20%, and have become much cheaper, but because of production costs, they cannot endlessly become cheaper. Now the price of solar electric energy generated by silicon photovoltaic cells is about 1 – 3 thousand dollars per kilowatt of power, and they pay off in 5 – 7 years. This is slightly more expensive than the price of energy from thermal power plants. On the other hand, in the last decade, alternative types of solar cells have appeared. The cheapest and easiest to manufacture of which, photocells based on polymer films or organic metal compounds – “Perovskites”. Organic or perovskite photocells have low efficiency per area, but research is ongoing to improve them. At present, the efficiency of polymer photocells has reached 7%, perovskite up to 14 – 18%, their efficiency is close to the photocells based on amorphous and crystalline silicon. The weakness of these types of photocells is in their fragility, modern samples have a service life of 1 – 3 years, this is not enough for industrial use. In addition, the type of perovskite currently used in solar cells contains lead, a toxic element. their efficiency is close to that of photocells based on amorphous and crystalline silicon. The weakness of these types of photocells is in their fragility, modern samples have a service life of 1 – 3 years, this is not enough for industrial use. In addition, the type of perovskite currently used in solar cells contains lead, a toxic element. their efficiency is close to that of photocells based on amorphous and crystalline silicon. The weakness of these types of photocells is in their fragility, modern samples have a service life of 1 – 3 years, this is not enough for industrial use. In addition, the type of perovskite currently used in solar cells contains lead, a toxic element.
Currently, alternative types of photocells have not yet been finalized for industrial use, but active development is underway in this direction. If it is possible to increase the service life of the new photocells and replace the toxic lead in the perovskite composition, they will become widespread.
The main advantage of organic and perovskite solar cells is their low price. If silicon solar cells are cost effective, but more expensive than traditional energy. Then new, cheap types of solar cells will be several times cheaper, and with further distribution in production, their price will fall. That is, the price of new solar cells will be significantly cheaper than traditional energy. And this is a revolution in energy. Cheap solar cells will rapidly proliferate and displace traditional fossil-fueled power plants from the market, converting the earth to solar energy.
The energy revolution associated with the entry of cheap solar cells on the market may occur in the coming years.
In space, new types of thin-film solar cells could also take solar energy to the next level.
Traditional silicon solar panels are heavy for space. Solar panels based on film photocells, one micron thick, will be tens of times more efficient with the same mass.
The tenfold increase in the power of solar panels will provide new opportunities for the development of electric jet engines. These are motors with external energy supply, plasma or ionic. They consume little fuel, but have low traction. The thrust of electric propulsion motors is mainly dependent on the power supply. Modern electric jet engines have thrust of a fraction of a gram, and they accelerate the devices to the required speed for years. They are used in interplanetary scientific probes to study distant planets, to which to fly for many years, with such a flight duration, they are more efficient than chemical engines. And to correct the orbit of near-earth satellites, help them counteract the solar wind and correct random orbital deviations, without large expenditures of fuel. But with the advent of highly efficient film solar cells,
Orbital tugs, with film solar panels, will pick up speed not for years, but in a month or a week, an acceptable time frame for flights in earth orbit for commercial purposes. Orbital tugs, a reusable, efficient and inexpensive vehicle for flights between orbits near the earth with loads. They can connect near-Earth space with cheap and constant transport links. They will make it possible to transport satellites to orbital stations for maintenance and repair. Orbital stations from research laboratories will turn into reference points for the development of extraterrestrial industry. Technological activities and production will begin to develop on them.
The advent of inexpensive, lightweight solar cells on the market will accelerate the creation of orbiting solar power plants. Now there are projects of orbital solar power plants, but they are not profitable, the price of their energy is 3 times more expensive than the market one. But with the advent of cheap, current-film solar cells, the price of space solar energy will be several times lower than the traditional one. Unlike the earth, in space, the generation of solar energy does not depend on the weather and time of day; its resources are virtually unlimited. Space solar energy is a promising market with trillions of dollars in turnover, and this money will be invested in the space industry, accelerating its growth and development.
Market entry of inexpensive, film-based solar cells will accelerate progress in solar energy development on earth and in space. Accelerate progress in the industrialization of space. The recently passed space test of photocells on polymers and perovskites is just an experiment. But every new industry begins with such experimentation, followed by experimental work and the transition to mass production.