Singapore Launches New Solar Research Lab to Boost Efficiency of Solar Panels

Jul 2023

An SGD 77 million (USD 57.4 million) solar research lab has been launched in Singapore with the aim of enhancing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar panels. The facility, a collaboration between the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris) and solar manufacturer REC Solar at the National University of Singapore (NUS), will focus on developing advanced technologies and materials for solar energy generation, and aims to produce low-cost solar cells with an efficiency of at least 30%, an increase from the current maximum of 25%. The lab’s establishment is part of Singapore’s commitment to advancing renewable energy technologies and fostering a green economy. 

Under the Singapore Green Plan, the city-state is looking to deploy at least 2 gigawatt-peak of solar energy by 2030, which is equivalent to the annual electricity needs of around 350 000 households. One way of achieving this target and increasing the efficiency of solar panels to 30% is the use of tandem solar cells, where two solar cells are stacked on top of each other. The uppermost layer will be made of perovskite, a crystalline compound known for its low production cost and high energy conversion efficiency, with the typical silicon used as the bottom cell. However, one issue with tandem solar cells – that the lab seeks to tackle – is how to scale up tandem cells for commercial use in a cost-effective way, as well as how to enhance the durability of perovskite. 

One goal of the lab is to produce the world’s first large-scale solar cell, measuring 21cm by 21cm in size, with a 30% efficiency rate, by 2026. To do so, the lab will partner with Nanyang Technological University (NTU), an expert with perovskite. The project as a whole will involve about 40 researchers and aims to train up to 20 Ph.D. students over the course of the next 5 years.

(Source: The Straits Times)

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