Supergen Solar Network+

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


The primary objective of the SuperSolar Network is to maintain and improve an inclusive and co-ordinated network for the Photovoltaics (PV) research community in the UK. The Network will include all solar technologies from fundamental research through to module engineering and will champion the role of solar in the overall energy mix. The SuperSolar Network will achieve impact by reaching out to the wider community through its already substantial Associate and Network membership. It will work with the Supergen Hubs such as Energy Storage and Grid Net on areas of mutual interest. By including practitioners from all areas of solar energy, we will identify and support promising new areas of research using flexible funding.

Planned Impact

The UK has a large stake in the world-wide PV market. NSG-Pilkington exclusively supplies all fluorine doped tin oxide (FTO) coated glass to First Solar Inc. First Solar dominates the thin film PV market with ~3GW annual production of cadmuim telluride (CdTe) modules. This corresponds to 30 sq km of high value coated glass. First Solar will double production to 6GW with its new Series 6 modules.

The UK is a leader in early stage solar technologies. Research supported by EPSRC led to the discovery of perovskite solar cells at Oxford University. The record conversion efficiencies are already comparable with mc-silicon and CdTe cells. Perovskite cells are potentially the lowest cost technology because they are solution processable. The UK is well placed to exploit this breakthrough and Oxford Photovoltaics has raised more than £30 million to etablish a pilot line for perovskite/crystalline silicon tandem cells.

The UK is also a leader in organic PV. Eight19 Ltd, a Cambridge spin-out, has identified a market for indoor applications and is in production with roll to roll printing technology. UK Researchers are also improving CdTe devices (helpful to NSG-Pilkington) and are leaders in using computational chemistry to select new compounds for solar applications. It is important that the scientific infrastructure that led to these UK discoveries is maintained.

Intellectual Property: The flexible funding will generate intellectual property. Through our strong and existing Network membership, we will match new IP with industrial partners for exploitation. We will organize joint events with Venture Capital organisations.

Industry: The Solar Network+ inherits a network that includes all UK companies involved in the Solar industry. The adoption of SESSIG will further strengthen involvement with the industry. We will organise events to encourage academic/industry interaction; sometimes the majority of participants will come from UK companies. Collaborative research between Network+ academic members and industry will continue to flourish, often enabled through Innovate UK projects.

The growth of Solar PV offers outstanding business opportunities. Some opportunities occur in cell and module production and UK companies such as Oxford PV, Eight19 and Big Solar are making headway. Other opportunities occur in coatings on glass (AR and TCO's), interconnects, laser sectioning, balance of systems, deposition technologies, anti-soiling coatings, aerial surveillance, battery storage etc. Maximising the number of industrial associates to the Network+ will be a priority. We will use flexible funding for 3 month secondments of academics into UK companies.

International Engagement: The Solar Network will continue to establish an internationally recognised UK Solar research identity. We will use flexible funding to assist early stage researchers to spend 3 months in a leading International laboratory such as NREL (United States) or Fraunhofer ISE (Germany) to accelerate research, access know-how and facilities, and learn from best practice.

Government Policy: The Solar Network+ includes involvement of Government agencies and policy makers. BEIS, KTN and UKERC are members of the Network+ Strategic Advisory Panel. The PI was a member of the DECC UK PV Strategy Group and Chair of its Innovation Task Force.

Outreach: The Network+ will develop of an active, connected academic and industrial PV community. The adoption of SESSIG and the Solar Fuels Network will increase our network base. The Network will hold about 10 events each year and continue to work with organizations such as the IOP, IEE, RIC and IMMM.

Training: We will provide training for new researchers in solar research methods. We will support the EPSRC CDT in New and Sustainable PV by training the PhD cohorts. Support will include free registrations at UK events and assistance to attend International conferences.
Description The Supergen Solar Network+ organises or supports a range of events of interest to academic and industrial members. A list of 2019 events was as follows: 12th March 2019, 'SuperSolar Workshop on Solar Cell Measurements', Loughborough University 28th-29th March, '7th Solar Fuels Symposium' University of Cambridge 9th April 2019, 'SuperSolar Research Skills for Solar PV Devices', University of Warwick, (in association with PVSAT) 10th-12th April 2019, 'PVSAT 14', University of Warwick 9th May 2019 'Opportunities for Solar in the Developing World', Loughborough University June 2019 'SuperGen Programme Phase 4 Launch Event' (joint with SuperGen Hubs), Houses of Parliament 27th June 2019 'Workshop on Perovskites and related PV technology' University of Oxford 9th July 2019, 'Solar Commission Briefing Paper Launch', (as member of the Solar Commission), House of Lords 9th-10th July 2019, 'SuperSolar Technical Meeting XII', Swansea University 17th-19th September 'Solar & Storage', NEC Birmingham 25th September 2019, 'Advances in Photovoltaics', Institute of Physics, London 10th December 2019, 'Joint SuperSolar- Solar Fuels Network symposium' University College, London It also supports the UK's accredited CREST Photovoltaic Measurement and Calibration Laboratory (CPVMCL): The CREST Laboratory at Loughborough University has been accredited by UKAS to ISO 17025:2005 since March 2016. This large facility offers a wide range of PV device characterisation and durability test capability. This includes precision power/efficiency, temperature coefficient and spectral response/EQE measurements of research solar cells of a few mm2, standard World PV Scale package reference cells used for solar simulator control and irradiance measurement, commercial scale cells and full-sized modules up to 4m2. The external accreditation fully qualifies measurement uncertainties with traceability to international standards and periodic verification through calibration laboratory inter-comparison campaigns, allowing users of the facility to make high-confidence statements of device performance.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Chemicals,Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description Materials for the Energy Transition Road Map for New Materials in Photovoltaics
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
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 Member of the Solar commision
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
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 Lasers drive the Green Economy towards Net Zero 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Organised by the Association of Industrial Laser Users. This webinar will highlight the challenges faced and explore the variety of applications of lasers in renewable energy, green transportation and the role the industry has to play in meeting net zero.

Preliminary Programme

13:30 - 16:00 BST

Matthew Wasley (Photonics Lead, KTN) - Introduction & Welcome
Michael Walls (Loughborough Uni) - Technology and Market Trends in Solar Photovoltaics
Grigorios Rigas (M-Solv) - Laser Processing of Perovskite PV
Melanie Loveridge (Warwick Uni) - Laser Structuring helps battery performance
TBA (Genesis Systems) - Laser welding of batteries for electric vehicles
John Silva (Carrs Welding) - How Laser Welding of Li-ion Cells has Changed Over the Last Decade: Cells, Joints & Interlinks
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Materials for the Energy Transition Road Map for New Materials in Photovoltaics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact the Henry Royce Institute (Royce) for advanced materials, in collaboration with the Institute of Physics (IOP), has convened the academic and industrial materials research communities to explore the increasingly critical role of novel materials and processes to deliver affordable, reliable and above all, green energy. The output is a series of detailed technology roadmaps that set out how UK materials science can contribute to the UK's low carbon energy transition in the following areas:

Materials for Photovoltaic Systems
Materials for Low-Carbon Production of Hydrogen and Related Energy Carriers and Chemical Feedstocks
Thermoelectric Energy Conversion Materials
Caloric Energy Conversion Materials
Materials for Low Loss Electronics
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Solar Energy UK/SuperSolar Hub Research Roundtable 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact In collaboration with the trade association Solar Energy UK. The aim of this event is to facilitate collaborative development of potential avenues of academic research, with guidance from the solar industry to help identify business critical gaps and opportunities where applied research is most needed.


We will hold two virtual roundtables in early 2021, using Teams as the platform. The roundtables will each be two-hour sessions, consisting of two one-hour feature areas for discussion with a keynote speaker/presentation at the top of each hour to frame the discussion. This will be followed by structured discussion of research opportunities, looking at real world needs, and how to best facilitate collaboration between the industry and academia.

Roundtable 1 - Materials

Invited Speakers

Pilkington, NSG Group - Neil McSporran
Above Surveying - Will Hitchcock
BEIS - Speaker TBC

Research areas for discussion:

Panel coatings
Backsheet degradation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description The Solar Commission 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Government is committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This will be achieved by a move from fossil fuel electricity generation to renewable energy. Solar energy is a key part of the renewable energy mix. The solar research community is concerned that funding for photovoltaic research is not consistent with its importance for the UK (and globally). The Solar Commission was set up with support from UKERC to identify the opportunities for future solar technologies and applications. A report titled 'The solar commission-A bright future: opportunities for UK innovation in solar energy' was published in July 2019 and launched at the House of Lords. Copies have been made available to the 600 members of the Solar Network +.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020