Powering Ubiquitous Electronics with Perovskite Photovoltaics

Internet of Things (IoT) devices promise to enable a world of intelligent, connected objects that is expected to rapidly number billions by 2030. However, small electronic devices tend to rely on batteries that require frequent charging or replacement every few years, resulting in high material and labor costs and unwanted waste. Therefore, cost-effective and sustainable powering of IoT devices is crucial to realize the promised vision of a connected world. Small, low-cost, thin-film solar cells optimized to operate with diffuse indoor light offer a solution to this dilemma.
A connected world brings with it the drain of batteries and unsightly, bulky wiring. As more technology is introduced into homes and businesses, the chaotic clutter of cords and the dwindling number of nearby outlets are becoming an increasing nuisance. Using batteries is an environmentally unfriendly solution and replacing them on a large scale every 3-4 years is expensive and labor intensive. Integrating a thin film solar panel into smoke detectors, motion sensors, smaller electronic displays and other devices means that no batteries or external wiring are required and the device can be placed anywhere there is adequate light. Solar-powered devices are of interest to both homeowners and retailers, and would eliminate the need for batteries in many indoor IoT devices.

Perovskite solar cells are an exciting new thin film technology that has shown remarkably high efficiencies. Perovskite PV can offer similar high power density as silicon PV at lower cost, a fraction of the weight, and with a simpler manufacturing process. Perovskite solar cells can maintain relatively high efficiency even under low-intensity or diffuse light, making them well-suited for both indoor and outdoor energy harvesting. This is a key advantage over traditional silicon technology, which suffers from poor efficiency when used with indoor lighting. Since the perovskite material can be applied like ink, the solar cells are very light, flexible and unobtrusive. They can be easily integrated into small electronic devices and powered directly. IDTechEx recently published a report entitled “Perovskite Photovoltaics 2023-2033” which identifies the key challenges, competition and innovation opportunities behind perovskite PV.

Perovskite PV could be an inexpensive way to power everyday electronics. Source: IDTechEx

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For most household and consumer electronics, high performance is not a strict requirement. No state-of-the-art solar technology is required to power headphones, sensors and lights, for example. Solar cells with an efficiency of 10-15% could be enough to power most small and portable electronics. Durability is another typically important criterion that can be relaxed, as many electronic devices are designed for short-term use and consumers frequently upgrade their devices for newer models. The 25-year lifespan requirement typical of rooftop solar panels is no longer the standard to be measured against.

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The key metric for the successful deployment of solar cells in consumer and retail electronics is cost. With the ever-increasing volume of consumer and retail electronics, power solutions must be economical. In addition, solar technology will compete with established and relatively inexpensive batteries. Solar could gain a competitive position with batteries if it demonstrated lower cost and greater practicality.
Perovskite isn’t the only PV technology targeting everyday electronics. In fact, wireless headphones powered by dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) already exist and are commercially available. Household brand Adidas recently announced it is collaborating with DSSC maker Exeger to make its own solar-powered headphones. In addition, organic solar cells are used on a small scale to power motion sensors and people counters. The advantage of perovskite PV over these already commercial technologies is that they are expected to be easier to manufacture on a large scale. This is because, unlike DSSCs and organic PV, perovskite solar cells do not heavily depend on complex molecular synthesis. Perovskite PV also offers higher efficiencies, potentially making it a more viable option as the functionality of IoT electronics becomes more diverse.

To learn how the various thin film PV technologies, including cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide, gallium arsenide and more, can revolutionize the green energy transition, please read the brand new IDTechEx report “Beyond Silicon: Thin Film Photovoltaics 2023 – 2033″.

For more information on this report, visit www.IDTechEx.com/BeyondSilicon. All IDTechEx reports include a detailed analysis of established and emerging technologies, their potential barriers to adoption and their suitability for various applications, as well as an assessment of technological and commercial maturity. The reports also include several company profiles based on interviews with young and established companies, as well as 10-year market forecasts. For a complete listing of IDTechEx reports, visit www.IDTechEx.com.

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its research, subscription and consulting products and helps you capitalize on emerging technologies. For more information, contact [email protected] or visit www.IDTechEx.com.

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