SUPERSOLAR Solar Energy Hub

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Wolfson Sch of Mech, Elec & Manufac Eng

Abstract

The market for photovoltaic (PV) solar modules is experiencing astonishing growth due to increasing energy demand, security of supply issues, increasing cost of fossil fuels and concerns over global warming. The world market for photovoltaics grew by 139% to 21GW in 2010. Although this extraordinary pace of growth is unlikely to be maintained in the short term it will advance rapidly again at the point where grid parity is achieved. It is important that the UK retains a strong research presence in this important technology. It is proposed that the SUPERSOLAR Hub of Universities be set up to co-ordinate research activities, establish a network of academic and industrial researchers, conduct cross-technology research and provide a focus for international co-operation.

SUPERSOLAR is led by CREST at Loughborough University and supported by the Universities of Bath, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield and Southampton. This group is active in all of the PV technologies including new materials, thin film chalcopyrite, c-Si, thin film a-Si, dye sensitised solar cells, organic PV, concentrator PV, PV systems performance and testing. SUPERSOLAR will set up a solar cell efficiency measurement facility for the benefit of the PV community in the UK. The consortium contains a deliberate balance of expertise, with no bias towards any one technology.

Planned Impact

The SUPERSOLAR consortium consists of the Universities of Loughborough, Bath, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield and Southampton. All these Universities have well funded research groups in device development across the various PV technologies. The Hub is also strong in PV systems and module assessment. Each of these Universities has offered to provide additional resource to strengthen the consortium further, in some cases, even to include the creation of new academic posts.
SUPERSOLAR will establish an accredited cell efficiency performance facility for use by all UK academic and industrial groups. This facility is badly needed in the UK. The SUPERSOLAR research project will also focus on making step-change improvements to the transmitting conducting oxide (TCO) across all types of PV cell. This will also benefit all research groups since the performance of the TCO is crucial to the efficiency of thin film PV, dye sensitised Solar Cells and Organic PV.
An important impact for SUPERSOLAR will be the development of an active and connected academic and industrial PV community. We have agreed that the Energy Generation and Supply (EG&S) KTN will help deliver this. SUPERSOLAR will use the _connect portal to establish a dedicated group web site. This will deliver webinars and other web based information dissemination. The KTN will organize 10 events over its 5 year lifetime; 8 engagement events, 1 UK conference and 1 International Conference. The KTN will assist in the recruitment of new academic and industrial associates. Outreach to the wider community will use existing contacts with private sector event organizers such as SOLAR UK taking advantage of their massive subscription base (120,000 world-wide). An important goal for the Hub is to create a PV community in the UK that is inclusive and outward looking.
The world market for photovoltaics is experiencing extraordinary growth and it is important that UK industry seizes opportunities to grow its business in this sector. Maximising the number and spread of industrial (and financial) associates to the SUPERSOLAR network will be a high priority. The KTN will actively assist in building consortia of academic/industry or just industrial partnerships for collaborative research projects. It will encourage applied research through TSB collaborative projects. Best practice will be spread by training and two way academic-industrial secondments. Research results with technology potential will be protected and ways actively explored for commercial exploitation. SUPERSOLAR will aim to catalyse academic-business co-operation to maximize the exploitation of publicly funded research and grow PV related industry and employment.
SUPERSOLAR will have a high academic impact across the range of PV technologies. The drive towards device fabrication is key to this. All the groups in the SUPERSOLAR consortium already have well-funded platforms and an excellent record of publishing in leading journals. The proposed research on TCO's cuts across all of the technologies and will lead to cross-institutional collaborations which will add leverage to the expertise and facilities that exist already. SUPERSOLAR will be represented at all the major world conferences such as the EU PVSEC, e-MRS, MRS, SPIE and IEEE specialist photovoltaics meetings.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description OXFORD UNIVERSITY
The outstanding achievement of this programme has been the dramatic improvements in cell efficiency to ~22% achieved with solid state perovskite-based solar cells at the University of Oxford by Prof Henry Snaith and his team. This has been achieved remarkably quickly and there is scope for further rapid improvement.

Perovskite-based PV has exciting commercial potential and Oxford have developed important IP which is licensed to Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd (OPV). OPV is well positioned to exploit the technology. It is focusing its R&D effort on the development of c-Si/Perovskite tandem cells. The company is partnering a Tier 1 Chinese silicon solar cell manufacturer. A pilot line has been set up in Germany.

OPV's business model is to prove the technology and then license the processes to volume manufacturers (especially glass companies).

UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL
A cheap salt used in tofu making has been used to replace a toxic expensive chemical used for decades in thin film solar cell manufacture.

The chemical it replaces is water/skin soluble, toxic and carcinogenic. Magnesium chloride is edible and is used in bath salts. It is about 50 times cheaper than the cadmium chloride that it replaces.

The paper was published in 'Nature' and the press story went global. In the UK it was featured in the BBC TV News, BBC R4 'Inside Science' and the front page/editorial of The Independent. There were > 100 media reports worldwide.

UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD
The use of spray-coating techniques to fabricate perovskite photovoltaics. The team is working with Big Solar Ltd to commercialise the research.

UNIVERSITY OF BATH
The state-of-the-art in materials simulation has been used to provide atomistic insights into the operation mechanism of hybrid perovskites solar cells and the role of microstructure in thin-film CdTe solar cells. The work led by Prof Aron Walsh has involved collaborations across the solar energy hub, leading to high impact publications and scientific talks, and a follow-on EPSRC responsive mode grant.

LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY
The development of broadband anti-reflection (AR) coatings for solar modules including perovskites. The development of new transparent conductors for use in perovskite solar cells and crystalline silicon/perovskite tandem devices.
Exploitation Route OXFORD UNIVERSITY
The technology will lead to higher efficiency solar modules.

Tandem perovskite/crystalline silicon cells could provide more efficient modules for large scale in utility scale deployments.


UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL
The process promises cost reductions in PV manufacturing, not only from reduced materials costs, but from reduced plant and infrastructure required for health and safety. CdTe is the biggest thin film technology worldwide and this is a very significant breakthrough.

UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD
This is an enabling technology that would allow such devices to be fabricated over large areas. Device efficiency achieved currently using this scalable technique is 11.1% This is similar to that achieved using non-scaleable 'small-scale' lab fabrication processes

UNIVERSITY OF BATH
The research demonstrates the predictive nature of materials modelling where: (i) a ferroelectric effect was predicted for the hybrid halide perovskites, and subsequently observed experimentally; (ii) the role of stacking faults in electron-hole recombination in CdTe was confirmed, which matched high-resolution microscopy. The work has direct impact on developments in computational science, applications in a range of photovoltaic technologies, and will be extended to screen new low-cost high-efficiency combinations of materials

LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY
Broadband AR coatings have been designed and tested for thin film (CdTe, CIGS, CZTS, a-Si, and Perovskite) as well as for organic PV, DSSC and c-Si cover glass. These AR coatings increase the photocurrent and efficiency for all devices by ~4%.

Beneficiaries: All PV manufacturers. First Solar Inc is currently evaluating the coatings.

Glass manufacturers: Additional revenue from 'added value' of the high performance AR coating. Significant markets other than PV (displays, touch screen panels, i-pad's etc.

Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd are evaluating transparent conductors for the crystalline silicon/perovskite tandem device application.
Sectors Energy

 
Description The primary objective of the SUPERGEN SuperSolar Hub is to establish a co-ordinated network for the PV research community in the UK. The network boasts over 600 members and 72 associate members from 51 institutions. The hub enables PhD students and RAs to attend events and develop networks and supports and facilitates technical meetings in Solar PV. Additionally, the core members, the Universties of Bath, Cambridge, Imperial College, Liverpool, Loughborough, Oxford, Sheffield and Southampton, initial findings from the programme of research have been identified on the Key Findings tab. The Hub has overseen remarkable progress on the development of hybrid organic/inorganic perovskite solar cells. The original discovery at Oxford University has been supported by all core members of the Hub as well as by Associate members. Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd has successfully raised venture finance to exploit the inventions and recently announced a deal to develop crystalline silicon/perovskite tandem cells with a Tier 1 Chinese solar PV manufacturer.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Co-Chair of the DECC UK PV Innovation Task Force
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Assisting Government to identify priorities for Innovation in PV such as Building Integrated PV. Advice included attending meetings, writing reports and making presentations.
 
Description Member of the DECC UK PV Strategy Task Force
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Input shaped Government policy on incentives for the deployment of Solar Energy such as Feed-in-Tariffs.
 
Description Member of the Energy committee of the Institute of Physics
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact The Energy committee of the institute of Physics organises events to disseminate latest energy related research.
 
Description A National Thin-Film Cluster Facility for Advanced Functional Materials
Amount £460,998 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/M022900/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2015 
End 08/2020
 
Description EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in New and Sustainable PV'
Amount £5,260,808 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/L01551X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 03/2023
 
Description Photovoltaic Technology based on earth abundant materials-PVTEAM
Amount £2,012,697 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/L017792/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 02/2018
 
Description organic-inorganic perovskite hybrid tandem solar cells
Amount £696,405 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/M024881/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2015 
End 04/2018
 
Description Characterisation of solution processed transparent conductors 
Organisation TWI The Welding Institue
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Optical analysis and modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Sol gel anti-reflective coatings and hydrophobic coatings
Impact Support of a research student, thesis due October 2016.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Development of inorganic thin film photovolaics 
Organisation U.S. Department of Energy
Department National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Joint research on solution based deposition of CIGS thin film Photovoltaics. Collaboration to understand the performance of single crystal CdTe PV devices.
Collaborator Contribution Production of single crystal devices. TRPL and confocal PL analysis.
Impact 3 Publications, 2 joint Conference papers in 2016.
Start Year 2012
 
Description NSF Industry/University Co-operative Research Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics 
Organisation Colorado State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The consortium is engaged in increasing the efficiency and lowering the cost of thin film CdTe photovoltaics. We are producing thin films, complete devices and characterisation using HRTEM.
Collaborator Contribution The other partners are Colorado State University, University of Texas at Austin, First Solar Inc, 5N Plus, Direct Solar LLC, Ion Edge Corporation, NREL and MBI corporation. ECh partner is engaged in developing materials or devices.
Impact 8 Publications
Start Year 2010
 
Description Performance and microstructure of thin film CdTe photovoltaic devices 
Organisation Colorado School of Mines
Department Chemical and Biological Engineering Department
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution HRTEM analysis of PV device structures
Collaborator Contribution Fabrication of thin film PV devices
Impact 3 Publications, 2 conference papers
Start Year 2014
 
Description Plasmonics incorporated CZTS based solar cells 
Organisation Institute for Plasma Research
PI Contribution Fabrication of thin film CZTS devices. Evaluation of performance of devices fabricated at IPR.
Collaborator Contribution Fabrication of CZTS PV devices
Impact None
Start Year 2014
 
Company Name Applied Thermal Control Ltd (ATC) 
Description ATC manufactures high precision re-circulating chillers for analytical instruments, process control and other applications. The company was acquired by SDI plc in 2017. 
Impact Company has the highest market share in the UK market for re-circulating chillers.
Website http://www.app-therm.com
 
Description Advances in Concentrator Photovoltaics (CPV) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact One day workshop for the 'PV Concentrator' community held at Imperial College, 9th March 2015 (Organiser and Chairman)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Advances in Photovoltaics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting on 'Advances in Photovoltaics' held at the Institute of Physics. SuperSolar event with 70 attendees. International invited speakers.
Organiser and Chairman
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Appearance on BBC Breakfast TV 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Appearance on breakfast TV from CREST at Loughborough University publicising latest research discoveries in Photovoltaics. Representative of Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd was also interviewed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Appearance on Radio 4 'You and Yours' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview on Radio 4's 'You and Yours' discussing the viability of semi-transparent power producing windows using thin photovoltaics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Appearance on Radio Wiltshire 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview describing the work and success of the EPSRC Supergen SuperSolar Hub
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Appearances on Radio Wales, Radio Humberside and Radio 4 News 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Reaction to the suggestion that solar panels should face East/West to avoid a power spike at midday. Re-assurance that facing south maximises the feed-in tariff.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Opportunities in BIPV 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting jointly organised by SESSIG and SuperSolar. 80 attendees discussing the opportunities for Building Integrated Photovoltaics. Attendees predominantly Industrial. 29th April 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SolaStor Imperial College, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Event to bring together communities in Solar Energy and Energy Storage (Organiser and Chairman)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Solar UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participation in SOLAR UK in November 2015. Annual event held for the Photovoltaics Industry at BRE. About 150 attendees. Made presentation of Annual Industry Awards
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SuperSolar Technical Meeting V 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 65 attendees at SuperSolar Technical meeting at Cambridge University (Organiser and Chairman)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SuperSolar Technical Meeting VI 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 65 attendees at the SuperSolar Technical meeting held at Bath University. July 2015 (Organiser and Chairman)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SuperSolar Technical Meeting VII, Imperial College, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact SuperSolar Technical meeting with 65 attendees (Organiser and Chairman)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description The Big Idea-Investment Opportunities in Solar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact One day meeting organised in London by SuperSolar and the SOLAR magazine, October 2015. 40 attendees with a Dragon's Den with 4 Venture Capitalists and 8 companies making pitches for funding. Attendees 90% from Industry. Organiser and Chairman.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015