Stanford Increases Solar Cell Production Rates by Four Times and Up to Ten Times Lower Cost

Using rapid-spray plasma processing, the Stanford team was able to produce 40 feet (12 meters) of perovskite film per minute – about four times faster than it takes to manufacture a silicon cell.

“We achieved the highest throughput of any solar technology,” Rolston said. “You can imagine large panels of glass placed on rollers and continuously producing layers of perovskite at speeds never accomplished before.”

The new perovskite cells achieved a power conversion efficiency of 18 percent.

“Conventional processing requires you to bake the perovskite solution for about half an hour,” Rolston said. “Our innovation is to use a plasma high-energy source to rapidly convert liquid perovskite into a thin-film solar cell in a single step.”

They estimate r perovskite modules can be manufactured for about 25 cents per square foot – far less than the $2.50 or so per square foot needed to produce a typical silicon module.

Conventional silicon modules produce electricity at a cost of about 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. If the new solar cells can last for 30 years this will bring the cost down to 2 cents per kilowatt-hour and an unsubsidized price competitive with natural gas power.

Stanford scientists demonstrate a robotic device that manufactures perovskite solar cells at a rate of 40 feet per minute. The record-fast processor uses two nozzles to make thin films of photovoltaic perovskite. One nozzle spray-coats a chemical solution onto a pane of glass, while the other releases a burst of highly reactive ionized gas or plasma. The patented device was invented by Prof. Reinhold Dauskardt and his Stanford Engineering colleagues.

Joule – Rapid Open-Air Fabrication of Perovskite Solar Modules

• Rapid and scalable open-air spray coating of large-area perovskite solar modules
• A 12 m/min continuous in-line production speed without any perovskite post-annealing
• Single-source low-cost fiber laser scribing technique used for monolithic integration
• Cost model for manufacturing demonstrates lowest cost of any solar technology

We report on the open-air fabrication of perovskite solar modules with key advances, including scalable large-area spray deposition, new monolithic integration scribing techniques, advanced photoluminescence characterization, and reproducible high-throughput manufacturability. Perovskite deposition with linear speeds of 12 m/min without post-annealing is demonstrated, with improved device performance, luminescent yield, and greater than 10× carrier lifetimes. Manufacturability using monolithic integration of series-connected modules is accomplished with a new indirect fiber laser ablation scribing method. A stable cell and module power output of 18.0% and 15.5%. A comprehensive supporting technoeconomic analysis details the entire in-line manufacturing process from the glass substrate to the junction box of the encapsulated module. The module manufacturing cost, balance of system costs, and levelized cost of energy for a range of module efficiencies and lifetimes provide insights for the necessary tool speeds, efficiencies, and lifetimes for utility-scale energy generation.

SOURCES- Stanford, Joule
Written By Brian Wang,

28 thoughts on “Stanford Increases Solar Cell Production Rates by Four Times and Up to Ten Times Lower Cost”

  1. The vast majority of all news stories on any website/TV/newspaper are all about stuff you can't buy.

    I guess only craigslist and ebay are worth reading.

  2. Operating and fueling a free new nuclear power plant in the USA is 2.8 cents/kWh. If you refurbish a free one every 25 years that is another 3 cents per kWh amortized. Now throw in the capital cost cost of a newly built one….your 0.4 cents doesn’t even cover fuel.

  3. The vast majority of articles on site are about products and technologies that are not yet for sale. Why do you come here if none of that matters to you?

  4. Of course you can protect it with glass once it is done, but what about during the deposition process itself? The ambient air could mix with the plasma when depositing the layers since there is not even a chamber around the substrate. So how do you prevent whatever is in the air to mix in with the deposited layers?

  5. No idea. But it is still amazing to see where we came from. Nuclear still averages about 0.4 cents per KWh, but gas is also at ~1.3. So if nuclear is not an option in your country, you are still getting a good deal; and if you have a sunny desert to fill with cash to spare…happy days.

  6. Oh, but you mentioned cents/KWh, which to me implies production cost. Never mind. The remark for cell pricing will basically remain the same. Even when your raw materials are free, the production method for that cell will be part of its total cost. But the price in the article is impressive enough. To me it is all welcome progress.

  7. I assume, too, that this is for rooftop since I have seen levelized cost for large ~GW scale utility silicon plants built in the desert for 1.3 cents per kWh, both in UAE and Portugal

  8. I'm going with steady improvement on that one. I suspect that the degradation comes with the increased power being generated, by and large, so may not actually be a *problem*, totally. My outlook is to show things are possible, Physics wise, and not lock in on a solution unnecessarily. I'm not convinced Solar Thermal turbine won't play a big role. Only need one working plan to get started! nss dot org has nice Space Solar overview, but no Criswell.

  9. Sandwiched in glass, which isn’t really cheap. The 10 year or less lifespan even inside glass is the main current challenge for perovskites.

  10. How long do PV cells last in space? My understanding is that the ionizing radiation ubiquitous in space does degrade the performance of solar cells over time. How big a problem is that?

  11. "Sky view" a LOT better in Space, as is the ability to deliver electricity where needed with power beaming. Far superior to dedicated Earth collectors, altho roof shingles may pay at first, as the protective roof has to be there anyway.

  12. O'Neill should come to mind from the topic, if well informed. Before your comment, there was no reason to bring Janov up. edit: Now that you mention it, Space Solar is not limited to O'Neill methodology. Earth to Earth Power Beaming in particular can easily be started now with minimal launch. Would not surprise me to see it soon for emergency and military uses, where cost is not fine issue. Much can be experimented at ISS, and needs to be done first even if Moon resources were already avail. $$$ to be made! Planet to cool!!

  13. That automatically happens with Criswell Lunar Solar Power, or any Space Solar where the cells are in a vacuum and need very little support or strength. That is in addition to the much brighter sunlight.

  14. Interesting. It's also what you would expect when using an open air process. How would you stop dust, moisture, particles a.s.o. from mixing with the surface layers? Beats me.

  15. In that case, there is a killing to made by the engineering firm that figures out simplifications to the complete system, i.e. reduce the wiring, installation cost, transformers, etc by a factor of two or more. I don't believe we have exhausted these possibilities…

    This actually what Tesla is doing with their 4680 battery cell. Above all, they have reduced the "non chemistry" material and required work as to reduce the cost of the cell.

  16. No of course not. Imagine the price of the cell goes to ~0 cents. You would still have the installation, maintenance and labor costs, which is more immutable and does not reduce to zero. The result is that your averaged 'production' cost levels out (for the foreseeable future) to the price of non-cell related overhead.

  17. The price per cell/panel/module is reduced by 1/10 yet the article states 'Conventional silicon modules produce electricity at a cost of about 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. If the new solar cells can last for 30 years (Assume duration a constant in both versions) this will bring the cost down to 2 cents per kilowatt-hour'? The math is 'wonky' as one of my old engineering professors would say. I would expect a cost of 1/2 cents per KWh.

  18. It's all about latitude (sky view) and the ability to integrate into existing common products – c'mon Musk solar roof shingles (and associated packs – which need to reduce on price and increase in storage and durability) – where at?

  19. Tandem perovskite-silicon cells are where the real excitement is IMO. 30% efficiency reduces install labor, brackets, wiring, transformers, cleaning… all the balance of system stuff. That’s where the real cost reductions are.

  20. If the new solar cells can last for 30 years this will bring the cost down to 2 cents per kilowatt-hour

    From the Stanford news release:

    Scientists have developed perovskite cells that convert 25 percent of sunlight to electricity, a conversion efficiency comparable to silicon. But these experimental cells are unlikely to be installed on rooftops anytime soon.“Most work done on perovskites involves really tiny areas of active, usable solar cell. They’re typically a fraction of the size of your pinky fingernail,” said Rolston, who co-lead the study with William Scheideler, a former Stanford postdoctoral scholar now at Dartmouth College.Attempts to make bigger cells have produced defects and pinholes that significantly decrease cell efficiency. And unlike rigid silicon cells, which last 20 to 30 years, thin-film perovskite eventually degrades when exposed to heat and moisture.

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