In the fight against climate change and abnormal weather patterns resulting from global warming, solar power emerges as a critical and effective solution. Among solar technologies, perovskite solar cells have gained substantial attention due to their thin, lightweight, and flexible nature. Toshiba’s recent breakthrough in developing the world’s most efficient perovskite solar cells prompts us to explore how this innovation can contribute to a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable society.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is vital to combat global warming’s impact on weather patterns. Solar power, particularly perovskite solar cells, offers a compelling solution due to their thin, lightweight, and flexible design.

Addressing Societal Challenges: Global Warming and Climate Anomalies

Worldwide, nations, businesses, and organizations are making earnest efforts to achieve sustainable development goals by actively reducing carbon emissions. The United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26) underscored the urgency of consistent and reinforced efforts to ensure a sustainable society in the coming months and years. This urgency transcends geopolitics, manifesting on societal and corporate levels.

As decarbonization initiatives progress, the transition from carbon-emitting energy sources to renewables becomes increasingly important. While renewable energy accounted for 29% of global electricity generation in 2020, over 70% of electricity generation still originates from non-renewable sources. Accelerating the transition to renewable energy is crucial to achieving carbon neutrality.

Mr. Isao Takasu, Fellow at Toshiba Corporation’s Research and Development Center, Nano Materials & Frontier Research Laboratory, Transducer Technology Laboratory.

Rise of Solar Power

Solar power generation primarily relies on harnessing solar energy, and its contribution to the global energy mix is rapidly growing. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates nearly a 25% year-over-year growth in new solar capacity installations worldwide in 2022.

Despite this progress, more advancements are needed. The IEA notes that “further efforts are required to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.” Therefore, expanding solar power utilization is vital to achieving carbon neutrality.

Perovskite solar cells are applicable not only in urban areas but also in rural areas.

Utilizing Solar Cell Modules for Various Applications

Polymer film-based perovskite solar cells offer a promising alternative to crystalline silicon cells — Being thinner, lighter, and more flexible, they can be installed in areas where traditional silicon cells are impractical, including rooftops or office windows. This innovation is particularly promising for urban areas, where land is scarce and efficient energy utilization is essential.

The benefits of polymer film-based perovskite solar cells, along with Toshiba’s technology, could pave the way for the large-scale adoption of solar power — For instance, by installing these cells in an area equivalent to the roof space of buildings in Tokyo, power generation could meet about two-thirds of the annual energy consumption of typical households. This technology extends beyond urban areas and holds potential for various sectors, including manufacturing and agriculture.

Challenges Ahead: Efficiency and Durability

Before this technology can be commercialized, there are challenges to overcome. Further improvements in conversion efficiency and durability are required. Toshiba aims to resolve these issues over the next three years to bring perovskite solar cells to the market by 2025. Additionally, cost-effectiveness will be crucial for market acceptance.

Toshiba aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% across its entire value chain by 2030. The company is actively committed to developing innovative technologies, such as polymer film-based perovskite solar cells, to contribute to a circular economy and the global transition to solar power. Toshiba believes that this dedication will lead to a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable society where people can live comfortably.

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