Last week we published Part I of this article, which outlined the rise and decline of Japan’s solar panel manufacturing industry. This week, we focus on a new innovative technology, perovskite solar cells (PSC), which Japan is betting big on in order to stimulate domestic production in solar infrastructure.
Almost 15 years ago, just as the sun began to set on Japan’s solar panel industry, a ray of light appeared that gave hope to dispel the pessimism. In 2009, Prof. Tsutomu Miyasaka of Toin University of Yokohama made the world’s first demonstration of a new solar tech known as PSC.
While perovskite minerals had been discovered more than 150 years ago, Miyasaka was the first to incorporate their compound structure into a solar cell. The power conversion efficiency achieved by Miyasaki was low, and the cell was stable for only a matter of minutes. But the experiment gave birth to a new solar technology. And since the research originated in Japan, the government fostered hope that it could help the country recover its position as a solar energy leader.
The path of PSC technology since then has been challenging as the cost of current solar panels has declined precipitously. But if Japan were to achieve commercially viable PSC-based renewable power generation, it could be a game changer not only for the country itself but the energy transition as a whole.