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PV-21 Consortium Set Up To Achieve Competitive PV Solar Energy

The project is a collaboration between academia and industry and is focused on developing thin film solar cells that will lead to higher conversion efficiency at reduced manufacturing cost.

The PV21 Renewal project is focussing attention on thin film photovoltaics (PV) which is the fastest growing PV production technology and one which has the opportunity for disruptive R&D over the period of the Renewal programme. With this in mind, the achievements of the thin film platforms, where key materials technologies are demonstrated in PV devices, have been carried forward to the Renewal project. The work packages cover aspects of innovative PV research from new materials through to fundamentals of thin film PV materials.

The PV21 Consortium will focus effort on the three polycrystalline thin film platforms of silicon, cadmium telluride and the copper indium diselenide (CIS) class of alloys, while encouraging pursuit of the relatively mature wafer silicon technology activity in Loughborough outside the Consortium.

The three basic platforms will be used to test innovative materials and design concepts - for example new absorber materials, transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) or light capture strategies - some of which may also be relevant to the Excitonic Solar Cells Consortium. The Consortium's structured approach will be enhanced by integration of 'Plus' projects that will inject new ideas and open new pathways towards the ultimate goals of PV21.

The academic partners include nine universities, led by the University of Durham, while the industrial partners includeSemiMetrics,  Pilkington Technology and SAFC Hitec.

The Consortium is increasingly aware of the important role played by economic factors in determining the timescale for widespread adoption of thin film PV, and the inclusion of a new package focusing on economic issues will ensure that the planning and management of PV21 will be based on informed choices regarding sustainability, producibility and long term economic viability. This contextualization of the PV21 research platform will also improve the quality of the Consortium's training program and aid dissemination to a wider industrial and public audience.

The work package is supporting the search for new materials through advanced, high throughput, screening of new materials that will enable a much wider range of materials and alloy compositions to be assessed. The technological relevance of these new materials will be developed through work packages developing the "platform" processes for high performance solar cells, a techno-economic analysis of cost reduction and consideration of routes to large scale production. The overall objective is to develop thin film solar cells that will lead to higher conversion efficiency at reduced manufacturing cost.
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