Eighteen industrial and research partners have joined forces for a research project, coordinated by Forschungszentrum Julich, that will focus on the development of improved thin-film PV products. The initiative has received 9.3 million euros in funding. The initiative, an EU Fast Track project, aims to refine thin-film PV technology and produce a marketable prototype with 12% efficiency within the next three years.
In recent years, various companies have increased the efficiency of marketable thin-film solar modules to the present level of 10%. Although these modules are still not as efficient as conventional solar cells, they can be produced much more economically, according to the research partners.
The group believes that thin-film silicon solar modules designed as tandem solar cells have particularly strong potential. These cells consist of two layers, one on top of the other, that absorb different fractions of sunlight. Each of these two cell layers is divided into several sublayers, which all influence each other in a complex manner. Because these interactions are difficult to predict, existing industrial thin-film solar cells make use of proven combinations of components and substrates.
For this project, representatives from research and industry who previously pursued different technologies are now pooling their expertise in order to combine the best components. The researchers plan to experiment with various nanomaterials and optical functional layers and refine the entire process chain.