Specifying Guidelines for Assessing Next Generation Solar Cells

CSIRO, with funding support through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is undertaking a project to establish guidelines for measuring the performance of Next Generation Photovoltaics, in particular emerging photovoltaic (PV) technologies such as Perovskite solar cells. At present, standard laboratory methods fail to account for the special requirements of these new devices, meaning that practices vary widely and breakthrough results from different groups cannot be compared. The project will ensure Australian research labs have access to a best‑practice methodology that is reliable, transferable and accurately reflects the true performance of the devices in the outdoor environment.

Further details are available on the related ARENA project page.

Why Guidelines?

Emerging photovoltaic (PV) technologies such as Perovskite solar cells, although showing extremely encouraging performance, present significant measurement challenges compared to more established PV technologies. Performance characterisation of cells based on the well-established crystalline silicon technology are routinely undertaken at accredited measurement laboratories using methods published in international standards. Emerging technology measurement challenges mean these standards alone are insufficient for accurate performance measurements.

CSIRO established and operates PV Performance Laboratory (PVPL), the only laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere that is accredited for PV cell measurement against required international standards. CSIRO, together with Australian and international partners, will undertake the development and dissemination of best-practice guidelines to promote a culture of high accuracy measurement excellence in Australia. Through knowledge sharing and researcher placements CSIRO will build consensus on guideline suitability with other accredited laboratories worldwide and promote the use of these methods in Australian research laboratories.

Project success will reduce the risk of scientific misinterpretation and misdirected research by addressing significant unresolved challenges in efficiency measurements of Perovskite and related emerging PV devices.

Project Scope and Outcomes 

This project builds on ARENA support for CSIRO‘s PVPL , the Southern Hemisphere’s only accredited facility for standard performance measurement of photovoltaics. The result will be accelerated development and commercialisation pathways for Australian developed PV technologies.

The primary output will be a set of guidelines for accurate device efficiency assessment, which will be used to perform high accuracy measurements at accredited laboratories such as the PVPL. Further, the guidelines will allow for different levels of rigour to suit research laboratories with a range of capabilities:

  • Basic, requiring only simple instrumentation;
  • Intermediate, requiring instrumentation found in most research laboratories; and
  • Advanced, requiring instrumentation and procedures typically only found in accredited labs, such as the PVPL.

Laboratories that intend to follow the guidelines will then understand the minimum requirements for their desired level of accuracy. The project will also assess processes of fabrication and encapsulation and the resultant effects on device performance.

Local Knowledge – Global Benefit

This Project addresses a crucial barrier to reliable assessment of device performance for emerging PV technologies. Through this project, CSIRO will strengthen strategic partnerships between Australia and international researchers at accredited laboratories and facilitate access to critical testing facilities and expertise available through the CSIRO PV Performance Laboratory (PVPL).

Guidelines will provide technical guidance for researchers, funding bodies and industry on the potential of new photovoltaic technologies, such as Perovskite solar cells, using a standard approach for performance assessment.

The outcomes from this project will build capacity and develop important skills for assessing emerging PV device performance, increasing the investment potential for industry into breakthrough technologies, drive innovation and overcome roadblocks for developers of promising compelling PV technologies.


If you have any comments, suggestions or feedback to the study or want to participate in the project please get in contact with the Project Team.

Send us an email at: NextGenPV@csiro.au