Solar panels convert the sun’s energy and into electricity. Also known as photovoltaic or PV cells, they are made from layers of semiconducting material which produce an electricity between the layers when exposed to sunlight. Solar power is clean and abundant, although despite improvements in recent years it remains more expensive than electricity generated from coal or gas.
Today’s solar panels use silicon as the semiconducting material, absorbing protons from light into the semiconducting material which causes electrons to break free, producing electricity. The silicon used in PV cells is converted into highly purified crystals, which is then cut into a thin layer. This process is complex and expensive, which creates one of the main barriers to widespread adoption of solar energy. Whilst there are alternatives such as indium tin oxide, they also remain expensive compared to other methods of generating electricity.
Solar cells made from graphene have the potential to be cheaper, more durable and more efficient at capturing the suns energy. This is creating huge interest within the solar energy industry, especially in a world increasingly motivated by a shift towards renewable energy replacing fossil fuels.
Making solar panels from graphene brings several advantages in the process, which significantly reduces the cost of manufacturing and, as the suns energy is abundant, it subsequently reduces the cost of generating energy. Using graphene together with other carbon composites avoids the complex manufacturing process traditionally used. In addition, carbon is much more abundant, readily available and cheaper than silicon, which means both the products and process are much more cost effective than solar panels produced using silicon.
KoreaGraph believes that the energy generation sector will continue to be amongst the most significant and profitable worldwide. Transition towards renewable energy is driven by scarcity of resources and the environmental imperative, which will see alternatives such as solar overtake traditional fossil fuels in the next 10-20 years. We believe graphene will be at the forefront of this shift in the energy market, and KoreaGraph aims to be one of the principle players in developing and exploiting this market opportunity.