SuperSolar Hub Extension

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


Solar technology provides an affordable, reliable and secure source of energy. It is a vital part of the energy supply mix needed to mitigate climate change. Module production has increased at an astonishing 35%p.a. compound rate over the past 15 years to 60GW in 2016. Over 12GW of solar modules has already been installed in the UK. The solar research area is rich in scientific and commercial opportunity.

The Supergen SuperSolar Hub has established an inclusive and co-ordinated network for the Photovoltaics (PV) research community in the UK. The Hub engages with stakeholders in Universities, Industry, Finance and Government. The SuperSolar Hub has achieved impact by reaching out to the wider community through its Associate and Network membership (589 members). It has also worked with other Hubs on cross-cutting topics such as energy storage and grid integration. A 12 month extension of the Hub will enable it to continue supporting the UK Solar community to April 2018 including 12 events, a further Call for Industrial and International engagement and support for SESSIG (Solar Energy Industry Special Interest Group). We will also maintain UKAS ISO-17025 accreditation for the SuperSolar cell efficiency measurement facility.

The Supergen Supersolar Hub comprises eight of the UK's leading University teams engaged in the development of photovoltaic technologies. The Hub was quick to recognise the importance of the development of perovskite solar cells at Oxford University and has funded complementary research programmes in Hub member and Associate member laboratories through its flexible funding. The speed of progress made with perovskite solar cells has been unprecedented and conversion efficiencies of >22% have been reported. The technology has serious commercial potential. World-wide competition is fierce, but the UK effort, co-ordinated by the SuperSolar Hub, has helped to maintain our leadership position. The research programme proposed will address the key issue of perovskite device stability with the ambitious objective of fabricating devices with >20% efficiency and >1,000 hours lifetime and less than 5% degradation when stressed under sunlight. The programme also includes the objective of achieving >25% efficiency with a perovskite/silicon tandem solar device. Achievement of these objectives will generate further valuable IP and take the technology closer to commercialization.

Planned Impact

Impact summary

Industrial impact: UK companies are very active in the solar industry. For example, NSG-Pilkington supplies 20km2 of coated glass to First Solar Inc each year. M-solv Ltd is developing a new laser ablation/inkjet process to interconnect thin film photovoltaic panels. Eight19 Ltd is manufacturing organic solar cells on roll-to-roll for indoor applications. Dycotec Materials Ltd is developing inks for PV applications. Opus Technologies Ltd and Cornelius Specialities Ltd are developing super-hydrophobic coatings to reduce the soiling of solar modules. Above Surveying Ltd has developed an aerial drone system to monitor the performance of modules in solar farms with theromographic cameras. A powerful UK supply chain is being formed and supported by SuperSolar activities.

The recent stand-out development in solar is the discovery of perovskite solar cells. The progress made has been astonishingly fast with efficiencies exceeding 22%. The fundamental discoveries at Oxford are protected by patents and licensed to a spin out company, Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd. The band gap of perovskites makes the technology suitable for use with crystalline silicon in a tandem device, extracting ~25% more power. This is the 'killer application'. Semi-transparent windows producing power is another potential application. NSG-Pilkington has entered the market for PV window and cladding products. Ossila Ltd, a Sheffield spin out, sells perovskite compounds and materials to the research community. Achieving the objectives of this research proposal will take the technology a further step forward to commercialisation.

Academic impact: Perovskite solar cells have taken the research community by storm, and this is illustrated by the growth of academic papers. In 2012, there were 4 papers on the topic of perovskite solar cells; 2,500 have been published so far in 2016. In 2013 Science named perovskite solar cells as one of the breakthroughs of the year. It is guaranteed that the activities proposed will have the highest academic impact..

Working with Industry bodies: The PI is a member of several solar energy industry bodies including SESSIG (Solar Energy Special Interest Group), SEII Steering Group and the BEIS (DECC) UK PV Strategy Group. Events have been jointly organised by the SuperSolar Hub, the KTN and SESSIG. SESSIG was set up by Innovate UK to create a network for UK companies involved in solar R&D. The Hub will adopt SESSIG and continue to provide facilities and events for its members.

Accredited solar cell measurement facility: The Hub has established a UKAS ISO-17025 accredited cell efficiency measurement facility. The facility was established for use by the PV community and will continue to offer a service to University and Industrial Users.

Intellectual property: This project will generate intellectual property in the area of novel materials, devices and manufacturing processes for perovskite PV technology. A collaboration agreement has been signed by all consortium partners that will cover this project.

Training: Training is another important impact for the SuperSolar Hub. The Hub holds annual training days which attract 40+ attendees to each event. The CDT in New and Sustainable Photovoltatics will benefit since this project will be open to the CDT students..

Government policy: The Hub is represented on the BEIS (DECC) UK PV Strategy Group and the PI is co-Chair of its Innovation Task Force. This enables the Hub to influence Government policy.

Timeliness and novelty: The SuperSolar Hub addresses the global challenge to produce energy in a clean and efficient manner, and the research will maintain the UK's lead in perovskite PV which will have important commercial applications. The Hub will continue to catalyse academic-business co-operation.


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Description We have continued to develop the perovskite solar cell technology in a concerted effort by 8 UK Universities. Although no viable replacement for lead has been found, the stability of the materials has been greatly improved. Work has continued to improve c-Si/Perovskite tandem cells.
Exploitation Route Oxford Photovoltaivs is a spin out of Oxford University. It has raised >£40 million in VC funding and has established a pilot line in Germany.
Sectors Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description Oxford Photovoltatics has raised £40 million in Venture Capital and has established a pilot manufacturing line for high efficiency c-Si/perovskite tandem solar cells.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
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 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 Advanced metrology for photovoltaic devices 
Organisation Rank Taylor Hobson Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Taylor Hobson has fully funded a sresearch student to develop new capabilities for Scanning White Light Interferometry
Collaborator Contribution Taylor Hobson donated a Scanning White Light Interferometer (value £125,000). Also the time of their Chief Scientist.
Impact Taylor Hobson are incorporating the new capabilities for thin film and optical materials metrology into their CCI range of instruments. This makes them more competitive in the thin film metrology market.
Start Year 2009
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 OSI-One Step Interconnect for Thin Film PV Modules 
Organisation M-Solv
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing devices for testing the interconnect process. Evaluating the performance and durability of the Interconnects.
Collaborator Contribution Using laser ablation and inkjet printing to interconnect PV cells in a PV module
Impact 3 Publications. M-solv are close to commercialising the OSI process. Our industrial partners are Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd and Dycotec Ltd.
Start Year 2009
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.
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