Black silicon solar cells are now real contenders
There’s been plenty of good news about solar power lately – not only are governments around the world using it more and more, we’re now able to harvest the Sun’s energy more cheaply and efficiently than ever before. But there’s still one big problem: traditional solar cells simply don’t work that well unless they’re in direct, bright sunlight.
To rectify this, researchers have been working on creating structures called black silicon solar cells, which absorb way more light and are useful even on overcast days. But they’ve never been efficient enough to be real players in the solar race – up until now, that is.
A team of European researchers has just announced that they’ve set a new record by creating black silicon solar cells that can convert 22.1 percent of the Sun’s light into electricity – an increase of almost four percent on their previous record. While this doesn’t compare to the record of 40 percent efficiency in traditional silicon solar cells, it shows that black silicon solar cells are now real contenders that could help greatly reduce the cost of solar power in the future.
Even more impressively, the team compared their new black silicon solar cells with traditional solar cells of the same efficiency, and showed that their cells increased daily energy production by 3 percent, thanks to their ability to suck up light even when the Sun was low in the sky