Energy Strategy 2050 wants to cover around 20 % of future electricity needs with solar energy. The chances of success are good. This is because a new generation of solar cells is about to get out of the starting blocks. The cells are based on the material of the future, namely perovskite, which is cost-efficient, easy to process and able to absorb light very efficiently. The so-called tandem cells achieve especially high levels of efficiency – they are built from two layers, with each utilising a different part of the light spectrum.
The new solar cells are, however, still facing their biggest challenge – making the leap from the laboratory to productive operations. The decisive factor is how high the energy yield of the installed systems will be in real use. This not only depends on the solar cell, but also how the solar modules function under realistic environmental conditions.
Researchers at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW, Winterthur) have used computers to investigate this complex issue. In cooperation with the laboratories of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa) and the EPFL Lausanne, they developed a toolbox of numerical models that can simulate all stages of electricity generation from sunlight – from the physics of individual solar cells to the electricity yield of an installed module comprising tandem cells.