'Science city' sees green future become a reality

By Zhu Lixin | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-05 09:19
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Workers dismantle a discarded solar water heater on a rooftop in Hefei, Anhui province, in 2020. CHEN SANHU/FOR CHINA DAILY

Hu Weifeng, a community resident, said: "In the past, we used an old-fashioned solar water heater, which could only provide hot water in summer, while water leaks used to be a headache for those living on the higher floors. Now, with the new solar panels, we can use safe, affordable green electricity every day."

According to a report released last year by the National Development and Reform Commission and the APEC China Business Council, the global cost of solar photovoltaic power in 2021 was 82 percent lower than in 2010 as a result of China's progress in the field.

At the School of Chemistry and Materials Science of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, researchers have been researching perovskite solar panels, a perovskite is a type of inexpensive solar cell that usually has a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material as the light-harvesting active layer, which can greatly increase the conversion efficiency of sunlight into electricity.

"The perovskite layer, which is only 1 micrometer thick, is like a 'skin' on the 'apple' of crystalline silicon, the dominant semiconducting material used in photovoltaic technology, which is about 200 micrometers thick," said Xu Jixian, a professor at the school.

As a cutting-edge technology in solar power generation, the perovskite solar cell has greatly boosted the light-electricity conversion efficiency rate from 25 percent to more than 30 percent, said Xu, adding that the figure was just 3.8 percent in 2009.

New energy is just one example of what Anhui, an emerging innovation center, has achieved in recent years. Having been overshadowed by the coastal regions for decades, the inland province is now emerging at the forefront of technological innovation by achieving breakthroughs in many fields, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other "future industries."

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