AN Oxford inventor who says his solar panels could 'transform' the industry has announced they will go on sale next year.

Professor Henry Snaith revealed the news after winning 'Europe’s most prestigious photovoltaics award' for his work at Oxford Photovoltaics.

Prof Snaith has received the Becquerel Prize to honour his 'significant' contributions to the use of a special type of crystal in solar panels.

The use of perovskite crystals in solar cells allows for more efficient and affordable energy output.

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Prof Snaith, 39, an Oxford University physicist, said: "I am honoured to receive this prestigious award. I am excited about the future of perovskite PV (photovoltaics) and its role in the clean energy transition.

"Perovskite PV has demonstrated its immense opportunity to transform solar energy generation.

"I am especially looking forward to the next 12 months and seeing our first commercial perovskite-silicon solar product on the market."

The Becquerel Prize was established in 1989 by the European Commission to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Becquerel’s discovery of the photovoltaic effect.

It is considered the most prestigious European prize awarded to those who have made major contributions to the science, technology or application of photovoltaic solar energy.

Oxford Mail:

Prof Snaith co-founded Oxford Photovoltaics to commercialise the solar technology he developed in his research lab at the University of Oxford.

The product going on sale in mid-2021 consists of perovskite solar cells integrated with standard silicon solar cells.

The company says that the combination of industry-standard solar PV panels with the perovskite cells will significantly increase power output, and, most importantly, provide more affordable clean energy.

Perovskite was first discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountain in 1839. The crystals' fascinating properties, however, were not discovered for 200 years.

Computer scientists at IBM discovered the potential the crystals had for semiconductors and transistors 20 years ago.

It was not until Prof Snaith began researching the crystals' unique properties, however, that their potential to help replace fossil fuels was revealed.

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Prof Snaith has been interested in renewable energy since he was young.

He told The Oxford Mail: “As a child I was very aware of global warming, the impact we’ve had and the problems of intensive farming and deforestation.

“It’s always been my agenda and I’ve been driven by that.

“After my undergraduate studies I wanted to work on something useful for society, and I thought energy was a big issue we needed to solve.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree in physics, Prof Snaith then did a PhD in photovoltaics at Cambridge.

In 2013, Nature named him on its list of the ten people who mattered, in recognition of his work on next generation solar power.

He also became one of the youngest-ever Fellows of The Royal Society in 2015.