Silicon is the undisputed ruler of solar (NYSEARCA:TAN) technology today having beaten its competitors like CIGs, Cd-Te, and others by a huge mile over the past decade.
While in the early part of the decade there were numerous technologies competing to take over the solar(NYSEARCA:TAN) energy king mantle, silicon with its exponentially dropping costs massively beat out other technologies. Even solar thermal which was based on heating, dropped out of the race not being able to come even close to the Chinese factories producing millions of silicon-based solar panels at ever lower costs. Many of the promising startups got bankrupted in the process with First Solar the only company being able to stand the onslaught of the silicon juggernaut today.
However, silicon technology is facing its limits with cell efficiency reaching 25% and market pressures are increasing to further lower the costs with higher efficiency. Monocrystalline technology(NYSEARCA:XLK) has already become mainstream due to higher efficiency and now there is talk of heterojunction cell technology becoming more popular with its ability to capture more wavelengths. But the limit is quite close and newer materials are being looked at closely.
Perovskite technology has been around a while along with other technologies, but it has real potential to become the real disruptor to the silicon solar panel ecosystem. It is extremely cheap, widely found, and has more advantages as compared to silicon as it can be coated at a much thinner thickness as compared to silicon to generate electricity from sunlight. The great advantage it has over silicon is that it can be painted over flexible material making its end-use applications much wider than traditional silicon.
Oxford PV based out of the UK already has a pilot line in place in Germany and wants to go commercial at a much larger scale while other startups are also firming up their plans. The other major advantage of perovskite is that it has an efficiency of almost 40% which is double that of silicon cells which could lead to a dramatic increase in the production of solar power. It is still early days for the technology but it has the potential to become really huge with the right incentives and investment.