Engineers win QEPrize for advancing solar technology

Article by Amanda Jasi

Jason Alden
(Left to right) Aihua Wang, Andrew Blakers, Martin Green and Jianhua Zhao

IN its 10th year, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering has been awarded to four engineers whose research and development of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology underpins the growth of high-performance, low-cost solar power.

Martin Green, Andrew Blakers, Aihua Wang, and Jianhua Zhao, are now amongst engineers recognised with the award for ground-breaking innovations that have globally benefitted humanity. Their passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC) technology overcame limits on energy conversion efficiency by introducing an additional layer on the back surface of solar cells, preventing a process known as recombination, and reflecting unused photons back into the silicon.

Currently, PERC technology is the most commercially viable and efficient silicon solar cell technology used in solar panels and large-scale electricity production. It accounts for 90% of the global solar cell market.

Dame Lynn Gladden, chair of the QEPrize judging panel, said PERC technology has “helped to drive the supply of clean energy around the world as part of the drive to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The future of solar cells is enormous and could make a major contribution to delivering net zero emissions.”

According to the International Energy Agency, solar PV capacity will almost triple between 2022 and 2027, growing by almost 1,500 GW. By 2027, it is expected to surpass coal in global power capacity.

This article is adapted from an earlier online version.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

Recent Editions

Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.