How renewable materials can help solar energy production?
Solar cells produce electricity from an abundant renewable source without emission of polluting gases. However, finding the right material choices to balance between efficiency, cost, and a lifetime of these devices is essential especially regarding the consumption of non-renewable materials and waste generation. Here, we show how renewable materials can improve the performance and the lifetime of solar cells. For instance, nanocellulose films could provide anti-reflection and light scattering. These properties can be optimized by modification of the film preparation methods or by choosing a suitable nanocellulose source. Lignin also plays an important role, since this material can protect UV light depending on its concentration and how it is applied. Nonetheless, UV light can also be converted to visible light by carbon dots synthesized from renewable sources increasing the efficiency of solar cells. These materials can help increase the lifetime of these devices considered the long-time exposure of solar cells to UV light contributes to the degradation of the active layer of the cells. In addition, by using renewable materials we can improve the recyclability of these devices in order to recover important components from the active layer, which increases, even more, the sustainability of this technology.