New solar power technology has been developed that could be used on rooftops in the UK by next summer. The technology makes use of a crystal that was first discovered over 200 years ago which is now used to make the most of the suns power.
Oxford PV hope that by the end of the year they will be able to make the most of the recent breakthrough and be manufacturing the most efficient solar panels to then be ready to start supplying to the public next week.
The Oxford based firm have claimed that the new solar panels will be able to generate a third more electricity than the traditional silicon based panels. The new technology works by applying a thin layer of perovskite (a crystal material) over the panels to harness more of the power from the sun.
This change in solar design is the first major breakthrough in solar generation since the technology was first emerging back in the 1950s. It is hoped that the new technology will play a large part in tackling climate change.
By coating a traditional solar panel with perovskite, it is able to have an increased power output as the crystal material can absorb a larger section of the solar spectrum.
Using silicon generally means that around 22 per cent of the available energy from the suns rays can be converted into electricity however using perovskite on a similar panel means that a record 27.3 per cent of the available energy can be harnessed.
The panels coated in Perovskite will look different to traditional solar panels as well. Where normal solar panels have a tinted blue shade to them, the new Oxford PV panels will appear black and therefore will look better on rooftops on buildings.
The crystal was first discovered in the Ural mountains by a Russian mineralogist in 1839 however it is only in the last decade where scientists have been in a race to use the material to increase the efficiency of solar panels at decreased costs.
The crystal material has the potential to be a true change for the solar power industry as it has remained relatively similar since it first emerged 70 years ago.
It is thought that the silicon technology is as efficient as it can be as it is now at the point where any upgrades costs lots more money. Perovskite however offers a large increase in efficiency whilst limiting the costs.