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Friday, July 13, 2012

The European Commission is funding renewable energy development

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News The European Commission is giving 7.5 million euro to a project to grow renewable energy sources, under the 'Energy' Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). This project called SCALENANO («Development and scale-up of nanostructured-based materials and processes for low-cost high-efficiency chalcogenide-based photovoltaics») is focusing on developing photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation, specifically using solar cell panels to convert solar radiation into electricity based on advanced thin film technologies.


Researchers and industry players currently make silicon solar cells by using complex equipment, including vacuum processes, high temperatures and clean rooms. One of the drawbacks of using such equipment is that it becomes an expensive investment.
 

So generating cheaper high-efficiency solar cells is key. The Novel Nanostructured Thin/Thick Film Processing Group at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom is participating in the SCALENANO project.

'As the global supply of fossil fuels declines, the ability to generate sustainable energy will become absolutely vital,' said Professor Kwang-Leong Choy, group leader for the University of Nottingham. 'Generating electricity by converting solar radiation into electricity, potentially provides us with an unlimited source of energy.

'At the moment, the production of silicon solar cells involves complicated equipment, vacuum processes and clean rooms which makes the cost of PV cells very expensive. By working together with academic and industrial partners across Europe, we are confident that we will be able to find a way of fabricating cost-effective, high efficiency solar cells, which will benefit businesses and households across the world.'

According to the researchers, problems associated with thin film solar cells that are now being commercialised are the result of materials deposited on the cells over a large area, as well as the limited supply of Indium, which is used in the production process.

The Nottingham researchers said they are working on building on achievements already made in the area of thin film solar cell technologies. They are also paying particular attention to solving the problem of uniformity and the application of alternatives to Indium to develop high performance and sustainable solar cells.

'The work that Professor Choy and her team are doing in photovoltaic technology is a great example of how innovations developed by researchers at the University of Nottingham can have potentially enormous benefits in industry,' commented Mike Carr, director of Business Engagement at the University of Nottingham, about the SCALENANO project. 'We always welcome the opportunity to meet with businesses who are interested in exploring ways in which we can work together to commercialise ideas and launch new products onto the market.'

SCALENANO kicked off in early 2012 and will end in 2015. A total of 13 partners from research institutes, universities and companies in Europe are project partners.

Source :  European Commission - CORDIS Article


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