Something must be afoot when a leading US oil and gas stakeholder spends years perfecting the perovskite solar cell of the future.
If the name Hunt Oil rings a bell, it should. As an affiliate of US-based Hunt Consolidated, it is part of a $4 billion oil and gas empire and one of the largest privately held firms in the US. If anyone would be interested in cutting off the renewable energy revolution at the knees, that would be Hunt Consolidated. Nevertheless, Hunt has embarked on a years-long perovskite solar cell venture, and it looks like all that hard work is about to pay off.
Big Oil Pursues Perovskite Solar Cell Technology
Hunt flitted across the CleanTechnica radar last spring when it let word drop that one of its affiliates is Hunt Perovskite Technologies.
That’s great news for renewable energy fans, considering the big dollars that a firm like Hunt could drop on R&D. The question is whether or not the idea is to gobble up patents for the Next Big Thing in renewable energy, only to lock them away in a closet so as not to compete with fossil energy interests.
That’s a good question. As HPT notes, the firm happens to own 22 US patents on perovskite solar cell technology and more than 45 international patents, making it the largest perovskite PV patent holder in the US.
For the answer, check out the relationship between HPT and the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The lab has been cheerleading for perovskite solar cell technology for more than 10 years, and HPT has been a partner in that effort.
The reason for NREL’s perovskite enthusiasm is clear. Perovskite PV has the potential to drive down the cost of solar power much faster, and far farther, than anything else on the market today. If HPT is super serious about bringing perovskite solar cells to market, the NREL connection would be the proof in the pudding.
HPT also made the case for itself as a leading player in the sparkling green perovskite solar cell market of the future last spring, when it became a founding member of the US Manufacturing Advanced Perovskite Consortium, which is spearheaded by the lab.
Oil-Related Company Determined To Market A Better Perovskite Solar Cell
In case there are any lingering doubts, when the consortium launched last spring HPT’s chief technology officer Michael Irwin had this to say:
We have worked in collaboration with NREL for many years, and we look forward to working with US-MAP as well as with other global business partners to realize the potential of perovskite technology for meeting much of the world’s energy needs in the future.
Did he just say that perovskite solar cell technology will meet much of the world’s energy needs in the future? Yes, he did. No word yet on what parent company Hunt’s oil and gas divisions think about that.
Meanwhile, the new consortium is focused on the metal halide perovskite solar cell area, which happens to be HPT’s field of expertise. In the latest development on that score, last month HPT and the Colorado School of Mines announced a significant step along the R&D trail through a collaborative study with NREL.