A Prestigious Engineering Award Is Bestowed upon A Pioneering Solar Team.

A group of scientists who improved solar cell efficiency contributed to the green energy transition and were recognized with a major technical prize.

The Queen Elizabeth Prize (QEPrize) for Engineering was awarded in 2023 to Professor Martin Green, Professor Andrew Blakers, and businessmen Drs. Aihua Wang and Jianhua Zhao, and others for developing the Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) solar photovoltaic technology, which now accounts for 90% of the global solar cell market.

The QEPrize honors the engineers who consistently overcome impossibilities and improve the state of the planet. One of those technologies, according to QEPrize Foundation head Lord Browne of Madingley, is PERC solar technology.

A Prestigious Engineering Award Is Bestowed upon A Pioneering Solar Team.

To attain net zero for the planet and the people who live on it, I think everything we do needs to be focused on the global energy transition. Innovation from this year has been and will remain crucial to this journey.

Albert Einstein paved the way for photovoltaic solar cells with his 1905 work on the photoelectric effect, which provided the first explanation of the photovoltaic effect.

Bell Telephone Laboratories created the first photovoltaic cells in 1954. Early solar cells, however, were prohibitively expensive on Earth until the 1970s and were mostly utilized on satellites in orbit, according to BBC News.

After the oil crisis, Green made the decision to concentrate on raising their performance at this point. According to the QEPrize website, at the time, scientists thought a single-layer silicon solar cell could have an efficiency of up to 20%.

However, Green suggested a realistic upper limit of 25% whereas the award winners and others thought it was conceivable to reach a theoretical efficiency of 30%.

At the University of New South Wales in the 1980s, Green and Blakers were able to achieve efficiency levels of 18%, 19%, and then 20 %. Green, Blakers, Wang, Zhao, and others reported a record efficiency of 22.8 percent in their first publication on PERC technology, which was published in 1989. Later, Wang and Zhao were successful in leading efforts that met Green’s aim of 25% efficiency.

A Prestigious Engineering Award Is Bestowed upon A Pioneering Solar Team.

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How Did They Accomplish This? by Altering the Way the Cell’s Back Was Constructed?

Traditional rear surfaces just had a layer of metal aluminum printed onto them, which made them poor light reflectors.

According to Blakers, who spoke to BBC News, any electron that came close to the back surface was likewise sucked up. It served both functions and increased cell efficiency significantly to swap out the basic back metal contact for a more advanced one.

According to the QEPrize website, the scientists decided against patenting their designs because there wasn’t a significant economic need for solar cells at the time they started their study.

A Prestigious Engineering Award Is Bestowed upon A Pioneering Solar Team.

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Instead, they decided to share their concepts. This implied that the technology might be adopted globally once societies started to realize how serious the climate situation is and how important it is to find alternative sources of energy.

When Zhao and Wang brought their work with Green home after their studies, they assisted China in becoming the world leader in the manufacture of PERC.

Zhao Told Bbc News, “we Were Among the First to Start Perc Production.”

One Chinese manufacturer currently produces one in every seven solar panels. According to the International Energy Agency, solar energy will have tripled in capacity by 2027, accounting for roughly half of all newly built electricity generation capacity globally.

According to the website QEPrize, solar is currently the least expensive electricity source in the vast majority of nations.

A Prestigious Engineering Award Is Bestowed upon A Pioneering Solar Team.

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We are in the midst of a global energy transition, with PERC and solar energy at the fore, and Lord Browne said in the news release, “I wholeheartedly congratulate Professors Green and Blakers, and Drs Wang and Zhao for their gift to humanity.”

The four scientists will each receive $500,000 in addition to a unique award. Later this year, they will also get recognition at a ceremony.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Green also received the Millennium Technology Prize in 2022, and there is talk that he might someday be considered for the Nobel Prize.

Vishal Rana

Vishal is working as a Content Editor at Enviro360. He covers a wide range of topics, including media, energy, weather, industry news, daily news, climate, etc. Apart from this, Vishal is a sports enthusiast and loves to play cricket. Also, he is an avid moviegoer and spends his free time watching Web series and Hollywood Movies.

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