The device has been able to set a new record for efficiency of up to 20%, which beats most commercially available silicon solar cells in use today. The new solar flow battery is also 40% more efficient than previous solar flow batteries. The researchers are clear that solar flow batteries are still years away from commercialization, but offer the potential to provide reliable electricity generation and storage for lighting, cell phones, and other uses within homes.
This type of battery combines the advantages of photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight to electricity with the advantages of flow batteries that use tanks of chemicals that can react to produce electricity and be recharged by solar cells. Being able to store solar energy is key because the sun isn’t always shining. This is particularly important in remote rural regions with a lot of sunlight.
Researchers say that today many solar home systems use lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries for electricity storage. Flow batteries can be less expensive at a larger scale and are ideal for integration with solar cells. In the research, the team used a material called halide perovskites. That material can increase the efficiency of traditional solar cells by capturing more energy from the sun.
The team says there is lots of research required before solar flow batteries could be practical. One challenge is increasing the size and scale of the current small devices that were created in the lab. The research is far from complete but holds the potential to one day provide a new way to harvest and store the sun’s energy.
Read More: Researchers create efficient and long-lasting solar flow battery