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Bill Gates-Backed Company, CubicPV, Advances Perovskite Solar Panels for Commercialization

CubicPV, a company supported by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is working towards commercializing perovskite panels to significantly enhance the viability of solar energy. Based in Massachusetts and Texas, the firm is engineering innovative solar panels featuring a bottom silicon layer and a top perovskite layer, resulting in an impressive efficiency rate of 30 percent.

A recent report by CNBC highlighted CubicPV’s progress in this field. CEO Frank van Mierlo shared with the news outlet that the company’s perovskite chemistry and cost-effective manufacturing method for the silicon layer make their products economically attractive.

The company’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Last month, the Department of Energy announced CubicPV as the lead industry participant in a new research center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together, these organizations will leverage automation and artificial intelligence to significantly enhance the production and development of tandem panels.

“Tandem extracts more power from the sun, making every solar installation more powerful and accelerating the world’s ability to curb the worst impacts of climate change,” explained Van Mierlo in the CNBC interview. He further expressed his belief that the entire solar industry will transition to tandem panels within the next decade.

Additionally, CubicPV is actively searching for a suitable location in the United States to construct a new 10GW silicon wafer plant. This step signifies the company’s commitment to expanding its production capacity and contributing to the growth of the solar energy sector.

With the support of Bill Gates and ongoing technological advancements, CubicPV is making significant strides in the development of perovskite solar panels, offering a promising solution for a cleaner and more sustainable future.

Challenges ahead

But all is not rosy yet! Perovskites still face many hurdles in terms of cost and durability. 

Lead halide perovskites are winning the race to be the best performing so far but researchers are still trying to formulate other compositions to avoid lead toxicity.

Martin Green, who heads the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics, told CNBC that silicon-based tandem cells are likely to be the next big development in solar technology even though they currently do not work well enough outside the lab.

“The big question is whether perovskite/silicon tandem cells will ever have the stability required to be commercially viable,” told CNBC Green.

“Although progress has been made since the first perovskite cells were reported, the only published field data for such tandem cells with competitive efficiency suggest they would only survive a few months outdoors even when carefully encapsulated.”

Will CubicPV be able to bypass this challenge and produce the tech the nation so desperately needs to make solar more viable and productive? Only time will tell.