Cheap, easy-to-manufacture silicon ink solar cells are slowly gaining ground on traditional solar cells. Innovalight, a startup that makes low-cost silicon ink-based solar cells, recently announced that it has achieved 19% conversion efficiency—a record for silicon ink-processed solar cells. Most solar cells average approximately 15% efficiency.
Innovalight's secret sauce is a process that allows silicon ink to be printed on solar cells using thinner substrates and fewer materials compared with traditional solar cells. The reduction in materials means that costs are slashed significantly.
The company doesn't manufacture silicon ink solar cells itself. Instead, Innovalight licenses its technology to crystalline silicon solar cell manufacturers. These manufacturers (Innovalight declines to name names until later this year), can install silicon ink technology on existing solar cell production lines. "There is a cost associated with putting in the additional step on manufacturing lines," explained Innovalight CEO Conrad Burke. "But there are overwhelming economic benefits in improving output and conversion efficiencies."
Innovalight isn't done innovating yet. With over 60 silicon ink-related patents already filed, rest assured we'll be seeing more from Innovalight soon.