Printed solar cells could open up new opportunities for 1.3 billion people in developing countries who have no access to electricity, according to researchers in Seoul, South Korea.
“The technology, which only requires the use of existing industrial-size printers, can produce solar cells that are flexible and inexpensive to transport,” SciDevNet reports, citing Scott Watkins of Kyung-In Synthetic. “The malleable nature of the paper-thin solar cells makes it ideal for rural communities in remote locations,” Watkins told a session at the World Conference of Science Journalists earlier this month.
In contrast to silicon-based solar panels, “printed solar cells employ a more organic approach that uses perovskites, a mineral made out of a precise mixture of lead, iodine and a simple organic component,” Lee writes. “Interest and research funding in printed solar cell technology has taken off in recent years, resulting to a jump in energy efficiency to 20% from just 3% a few years ago.”
But the technology is more vulnerable to moisture than conventional technology, and could cause lead contamination if a cell breaks.