These Solar Cells Could be Utilized for Solar-Powered Electric Vehicles

A team of researchers from Toyota Motor Corporation, Sharp Corporation, and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization suggested a special kind of solar cell that could be utilized for solar-powered electric vehicles in the future.

The researchers said that static concentrator photovoltaic (PV), silicon-based III-V tandem solar cells, and colored PV could be used for such vehicles. The researchers stated that solar cells with high efficiencies, such as multijunctional III-V solar cells with an energy efficiency of over 30%, would be appropriate for solar-powered vehicle applications. However, multijunctional solar cells’ high costs should be reduced for their commercial utilization in solar-powered vehicles.

The silicon-based III-V tandem solar cells can be utilized for solar-powered vehicle applications due to its high efficiency of over 42%, light-weight, and low-cost.

According to the research report, the global cumulative photovoltaic capacity for solar-powered vehicles will be around 50 GW in 2030 and approximately 400 GW in 2040.

The researchers suggested several ways to reduce solar module costs, including a reduction in film thickness, reuse of substrates, and a high growth rate of films. The cost of III-V-based solar modules can be reduced to $10/W by enhancing its production up to 10 MW annually with a high-speed growth method. The use of silicon substrate instead of Gallium Arsenide or Germanium substrates would also help reduce solar module cost, the researchers added.

The researchers stated that high-speed deposition technology (H-VPE) could be utilized to reduce deposition cost for III-V materials without any significant decrease in its performance. However, additional research is required for improvement in resistance loss and external radiative efficiency to lower the deposition cost.

According to its research report, Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota developed a solar-powered test car by using triple-junction solar cell modules with an efficiency of nearly over 32% and an output power of 860 W.

Last month, researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE announced a new record efficiency of 25.9% for the III-V/Si tandem solar cell grown directly on silicon.

Mercom earlier reported that scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory developed a six-junction solar cell with an efficiency exceeding 47%.


Image credit: Toyota