Global Tandem Solar CellMarket: Outlook
Globally, the companies involved in development of solar cells are investing in all favourable technologies, which can enhance the overall efficiency of solar cells. In order to maximize efficiency, companies are beginning to shift from single-junction limits to multi-junction configuration of solar cells. Tandem solar cells are the emerging class of thin-film photovoltaic cells. Tandem solar is one of those configurations, which comprises of two or more cells are designed to absorb the entire range of the solar light by the successive cells. Tandem-junction cell architectures present a path toward higher module efficiencies over single-junction designs, because of the ability to split the solar spectrum into multiple bands, efficiently converted by separate devices. This enables surpassing the limiting efficiency of single-junction Si (~29%), which has neared its theoretical limit.
Growing Investments in Efficient Solar Technologies to Harness Growth
Year-on-year increase in R&D investments in efficient energy systems followed by declining interests in fossil fuels shall drive the demand for tandem solar cells. Though achieving higher photovoltaic efficiency in single junction devices is becoming increasingly difficult, tandem modules offer the possibility of significant efficiency improvements. A four-terminal CdTe/Si tandem solar modules offer the prospect of more than 26% of module efficiency. This has driven interests in tandem solar technologies.
Although tandem solar cell is a promising technology, yet lack of technological solution for manufacturing and cost efficiency remains the key hurdle for their mass production. Tandem configurations are comprised of series/parallel connection of two or more cells. For manufacturing tandem device, the technological sequence involving different layers (series and parallel) must be so precise, that each of following technological step would not destroy previously created structure. Also, for mass production, tandem solar cells must overcome theoretical limits of single cell efficiency (~30%). Cost efficiency is a factor when compared to other matured technologies such as Si based solar cells.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, majority of stakeholders involved in aviation, automotive, chemicals, oil & gas, transportation industries, either have halted operations or buckled badly. Even the most promising renewable energy industry faced investment delays. Decline & delays in R&D investments pertaining to solar technologies have affected tandem solar cells large-scale production.
Tandem Cells with Silicone& Hybrid Tandem Cells has Lucrative Market Opportunity
Tandem cells with silicone have a higher efficiency (more than 26%) when compared to other types such as organic, non-organic, and hybrid. Silicon mixed in tandems with III-V group materials, CZTS, CIGS, perovskites, polymers produces promising outcomes. Overall efficiency of tandem cell with silicone ranges from 12 to more than 26%.
Efficiency of hybrid tandem cells range from eight to more than seventeen percent. Hybrid tandem cells are formed by combining elements or layers of different PV technologies to achieve conversion of energy across a wider spectral range. These cells used for semi-transparent and flexible modules, are still in an early commercialization stage, mostly due to lack of efficiency. However, several R&D activities pertaining to hybrid tandem solar cells in the U.S. and other nations is expected to make these technologies commercially viable in the next few years.
Rising Collaborative R&D activities in the U.S. and South Korea to Fuel Growth
In North America, NREL is investigating several hybrid tandem solar cell projects that builds on a silicon platform and aim to provide viable prototypes for commercialization. In 2020, scientists at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) working with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have demonstrated a technique, which could open new pathways to the development of commercially viable perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells. This could trigger investments in tandem solar cells in North America in the next few years. In Europe, researchers in Germany are scaling up efforts to bring perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell technology into industrial scale production. The goal is to increase the efficiency of these novel cells to more than 30% – not only at laboratory scale but also when produced on a commercial scale.
In Asia Pacific, South Korea will be the most rewarding market for tandem solar cells. The South Korean government has released a new roadmap to support R&D activities in the solar sector.South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE); domestic solar manufacturers and research institutes expect tandem solar cell technology based on silicon and perovskite to be the most promising candidate for PV products of the next generation. Also, in South Korea, public investments of around US$159.0 million is devoted to research on tandem PV technologies over the next five years with the hope of reaching an efficiency of 26% by 2023 and even of 35% by 2030. Thus, Government’s support and funding will drive the demand for tandem solar cells in South Korea in the next few years.
Global Tandem Solar Cell Market: Competitive Landscape
Key players involved in tandem solar cell market are Saule Technologies, Tandem PV, Fraunhofer ISE, GreatCell Solar, Frontier Energy Solution, Oxford Photovoltaics, Xiamen Weihua Solar Co.,Ltd, Toshiba Corporation, Dyesol, and FrontMaterials. On September 2020, Oxford PV, a UK-based clean technology leader, set a new world record for conversion efficiency in a perovskite solar technology. Company’s pilot line is routinely producing commercial sized tandem solar cells for validation by development partner.