The Avail Solar team featuring members of Exciton Science were awarded a bonus of AU$4,000 following their involvement in CSIRO’s ON Prime program.
Avail Solar set out to identify the major technical problems across the photovoltaics value chain and learn if solution-processed copper zinc tin sulfide selenium solar cells might address these problems.
To understand this, the team interviewed a range of companies and people, including the world's largest silicon PV manufacturer in China, PV installers, architects, and grid-scale solar farm managers.
The team's findings confirmed expectations that lightweight, flexible and cheaply manufactured PV may struggle to compete directly with silicon PV in existing rooftop and grid-scale PV installations, due to the huge investment at every level of the conventional PV value chain in silicon-specific materials, processes and skills, as well as a risk-averse mindset exacerbated by the need for product lifespans of more than 20 years.
However, Avail Solar learned there may be early markets for CZTSSe in niche areas where flexibility, weight or the aesthetics of panels are more important than efficiency.
Above: Team member Angela Keyte working on CZTS(Se) solar cells at the University of Melbourne.
The team did identify clear interest in affordable enhancements of silicon PV efficiencies using a tandem structure where a solution-processed cell is added on top of a conventional silicon cell.
For end users of PV, this would reduce the need for complex land purchases or increasing roof-space to increase power output. For silicon manufacturers, it would allow significant product efficiency gains and a new competitive edge.
Indeed, several companies have recently announced impressive results for silicon/perovskite tandems, but we anticipate CZTS cells will offer longer product lifetimes and avoid toxicity concerns associated with perovskites.