Power to the People: Democratising energy through decentralised manufacture and production of affordable, reliable, sustainable solar power

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

A programme of GRTA activity is proposed that will demonstrate the democratisation of energy. Through decentralising the manufacture and deployment of affordable, reliable solar power into the hands of local communities, novel models of public participation and local energy ownership can be explored through the creation of new actors such as prosumers, renewable energy co-operatives and community owned power generation.

SUNRISE, a £6.5M GCRF project, is growing research capability in the UK and India in the field of next generation solar energy systems that are affordable, reliable and sustainable. As such, SUNRISE partners form the core team assembled to respond to this GRTA call. This core is enhanced through the addition of other relevant collaborators from the DAC listed countries of Mexico, Kazakhstan and South Africa.
The transdisciplinary consortium comprises a combination of technical, commercial and socio-economic expertise and resources. As such, the group is ideally positioned to exploit the opportunity presented by a new, disruptive, solution processable (printed) solar energy technology - the perovskite solar cell (the underlying GCRF research). Due to the low capital equipment costs and use of earth abundant materials, perovskite technology has the potential to deliver locally manufactured, affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy solutions for the climatic and socio-economic contexts in developing countries.

Solution processable PV materials, which can be applied as an ink using printing and coating processes, present a very viable alternative to the currently established PV technologies.
Perovskite solar energy devices offer not only significant advantages in manufacturing and capital costs, but also in their application onto flexible substrates and direct integration into vehicles and buildings without excessive weight implications. Historically, the main disadvantage for printed PV has been the efficiency, which for Dye Sensitised Cells (DSC) and Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) technologies have struggled to exceed 12%, making the potential collectors quite large. However, a new technology recently developed in the UK, the Perovskite Solar Cell (PSC), has now exceeded all previous attempts to develop a solution processed PV.
The performance of PSC lab devices has now reached over 23% representing a step change in performance for new 3rd generation solar cells. At present the deposition of this exciting technology can be achieved on glass or flexible plastic materials, however this capability is yet to transfer at any significant level to module prototyping and fabrication, such as that contemplated by the technical aspects of this project.
As such, the GRTA funding will be used to accelerate:
+ Delivery of 'at-scale' building technology demonstrators, translating research into practical application
+ Growth of global academic, commercial, NGO and government collaborations through a cohort of International Transdisciplinary Knowledge Transfer Fellows
+ Commercialisation of substantial relevant IPR and know-how in the solar energy space

Given the imperatives of the 'energy trilemma' global challenge (SDG7 - security, equity and sustainability), it is now timely to engage in the translational work needed to demonstrate perovskite photovoltaic technologies can be produced at commercially viable scale and cost. If this goal is achieved, it will present a global opportunity to address climate change in an equitable and sustainable manner.

MIT Energy Initiative: "solar energy holds the best potential for meeting humanity's future long-term energy needs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions - but to realize this potential will require increased emphasis on developing lower cost technologies and more effective deployment policy".

In just one hour the Earth receives enough solar energy from the Sun to power the whole of the world economy for a year!

Planned Impact

People are the primary beneficiaries of the project. Through decentralising the manufacture and deployment of affordable, reliable solar power into the hands of local communities, novel models of public participation and local energy ownership can be explored through the creation of new actors such as prosumers, renewable energy co-operatives and community owned power generation, i.e. the democratisation of energy.

Organisations that specialise in clean technology delivery and investment will be able to take advantage of new disruptive business models and investment opportunities that have been developed and 'de-risked by the GRTA project.

Governments of developing countries will benefit through the opportunity for wide-scale deployment of localised renewable energy generation that will reduce the need for large-scale centralised power stations and energy grids that are expensive and environmentally unsound.
 
Description The DAC country GRTA participants from India, Mexico and Kazakhstan were able to join the February biannual symposium of the GCRF GROW cohort programme SUNRISE (Strategic University Network to Revolutionise Indian Solar Energy), a £6.5M programme to grow research capacity in the UK and Indian in 3rd generation solar energy and related technologies. The 3-day meeting involved c. 100 delegates from a transdisciplinary spectrum of academia, industry, public institutions and NGOs and included a broad mix of speakers at all career stages from these sectors including four Fellows of the Royal Society, nine ECRs and four non-academics. Notably, the ECRs involved in the GRTA were given an opportunity to present their work and invite wider collaboration. As a result two tripartite collaborations have been initiated:
i) Swansea University (UK), IPT (Kazakhstan), IIT Kanpur (India); and
ii) Swansea University, CINVESTAV (Mexico), IIT Kanpur (India)
We see the UK facilitating such collaborations 'North-South-South' as an early success of the programme and added value to both the GROW (SUNRISE) and GRTA projects.
Exploitation Route too early to say
Sectors Chemicals,Construction,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL http://www.sunrisenetwork.org/news/sunrise-international-symposium-in-bengaluru-india/
 
Description Sustainable Technologies for Distributed Level Application and Energy Support to Rural Development-II (STAR-II)
Amount रू 3,682,492 (INR)
Organisation University of Trento 
Sector Academic/University
Country Italy
Start 06/2019 
End 06/2022
 
Description Swansea University HEFCW GCRF Fund
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RIG1032 
Organisation Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 06/2020
 
Description Textile to Terwatts
Amount £237,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 541128962 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 03/2022
 
Title JNCASR - combining noise spectroscopy and photocurrent imaging for mapping and predicting performance of solar modules at scale 
Description Large area scanner can be used to spatially image photocurrent profile in a solar panel. This can be either integrated into the assembly line or as an on-site testing of solar panels. In the case of BHJ solar cells, we have optimised processing conditions such as electric field assisted annealing to improve the device performance. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact unique capability available to SUNRISE consortium 
 
Description SU - CINVESTAV - IIT Kanpur (SUNRISE) 
Organisation Centre for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV)
Country Mexico 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution provision of carbon perovskite solar cells
Collaborator Contribution CINVESTAV - provision of carbon perovskite solar cells IIT Kanpur - analysis and characterisation of the interfaces between the metal oxide layers, carbon layer and perovskite active material
Impact physics, chemistry, materials science, process engineering
Start Year 2020
 
Description SU - CINVESTAV - IIT Kanpur (SUNRISE) 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution provision of carbon perovskite solar cells
Collaborator Contribution CINVESTAV - provision of carbon perovskite solar cells IIT Kanpur - analysis and characterisation of the interfaces between the metal oxide layers, carbon layer and perovskite active material
Impact physics, chemistry, materials science, process engineering
Start Year 2020
 
Description Swansea University - IPT, Kazakhstan - IIT Kanpur (SUNRISE/GRTA) 
Organisation D. Serikbayev East Kazakhstan state technical university
Country Kazakhstan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution deposition of perovskite solar energy materials on silicon solar modules to produce silicon-perovskite tandem solar modules
Collaborator Contribution provision of novel silicon solar modules specifically processed to manufacture tandem solar modules
Impact chemistry, physics, materials engineering
Start Year 2020
 
Description Swansea University - IPT, Kazakhstan - IIT Kanpur (SUNRISE/GRTA) 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution deposition of perovskite solar energy materials on silicon solar modules to produce silicon-perovskite tandem solar modules
Collaborator Contribution provision of novel silicon solar modules specifically processed to manufacture tandem solar modules
Impact chemistry, physics, materials engineering
Start Year 2020
 
Description Swansea University - UKZN (SUNRISE/GRTA) 
Organisation University of KwaZulu-Natal
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution knowledge exchange regarding 'green' chemistry and its application to printed photovoltaics and related solar energy technology developments
Collaborator Contribution knowledge exchange regarding 'green' chemistry and its application to printed photovoltaics and related solar energy technology developments
Impact -
Start Year 2019
 
Description Swansea University - University of Cambridge (Department of Architecture) - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (SUNRISE) 
Organisation Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Access to SUNRISE programme, network, projects and demonstrators
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in the design of sustainable buildings, particularly regarding energy use and gender considerations and policy engagement
Impact engineering, physics, chemistry, materials science, architecture, social sciences and commerce
Start Year 2019
 
Description Swansea University - University of Cambridge (Department of Architecture) - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (SUNRISE) 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Architecture
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Access to SUNRISE programme, network, projects and demonstrators
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in the design of sustainable buildings, particularly regarding energy use and gender considerations and policy engagement
Impact engineering, physics, chemistry, materials science, architecture, social sciences and commerce
Start Year 2019