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The challenge

High cost and complex production of solar cells

The high cost of silicon solar cells and their complex production process has generated considerable interest in developing alternative solar cell technologies using organic photovoltaics. The benefits of using organic photovoltaics for the production of solar cells includes its low-cost, environmentally friendly production methods, and the ability to mass produce. It will also result in a marked change in how and where energy can be generated.

Organic photovoltaic solar cells are low cost and environmentally friendly to produce.

Our response

Cheaper, longer lasting cells

We have committed to making photovoltaic solar cells – a commercialised, readily-available solar technology – cheaper, longer lasting and more environmentally sustainable. Photovoltaics (PVs) involve the conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. Materials are selected or designed to absorb photons of light and release electrons. When these electrons are captured, electricity is created.

The benefits of using organic photovoltaics (OPV's) for the production of solar cells include low-cost, environmentally friendly production methods and a light weight flexible substrate that allows a marked change in how and where energy can be generated.

Challenges facing developers include how to improve conversion efficiency, as OPV's are currently considerably less efficient than silicon cells at converting light to energy. Most of today's commercially available solar cells are made from high-purity semi-conductor or solar grade silicon, which makes the cells expensive.

We are investigating new organic materials (like plastic, which can be printed) and other technologies that will create the next generation of solar cells – they will be lighter, more flexible, attractive and, most importantly, cheaper.

Photovoltaics case studies

  • Our thin, flexible solar cells could offer an affordable solution to meeting the needs of increasing energy demands around the world.

  • Thin-film solar technology is often cheaper, but less efficient, than conventional solar technology. However, a promising new type of thin film solar cell, the perovskite solar cell, has emerged in recent years. The perovskite solar cell record conversion efficiency has increased from 9.7 per cent to an impressive 22 per cent in recent years.

  • Breakthrough thin-film solar photovoltaic technologies based on perovskite semi-conductors

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