New Energy Technologies in the US has worked with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists to produce a large-area organic solar cell demonstrator measuring 170cm2, the largest organic photovoltaic (OPV) module made at the agency.
The module was fabricated using an enhanced solution coating process being commercialised by New Energy. The process can be scaled up to produce OPV glass over large area substrates that, once industrialised, will reduce manufacturing costs associated with solar PV cell manufacture.
The solution-coating process is compatible with roll-to-roll production, and enables more uniform and faster application of New Energy Technologies' SolarWindow electricity-generating coatings.
The company is one of several developers pursuing the roll-to-roll printing or coating of organic solar cells based on solution-processable polymers. Others include Konarka and Solarmer in the US, and Eight19 in the UK. But like developers commercialising advanced PV modules based on dye-sensitised solar cell (DSC) materials, New Energy is focusing efforts on a production method on glass substrates. The company is designing glazing, and window modules and products, for various commercial and residential applications based on its SolarWindow technology.
Printable polymer PV
These three companies have commissioned pilot scale equipment for scaling up the fabrication of solar cells that are low cost to make, lightweight, transparent, flexible in format and have low-embedded energy, and use non-toxic materials in their production.
Organic solar cells based on solution processable polymers have made recent progress in lab efficiencies too. A champion multijunction polymer solar cell developed at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) - the lab behind Solarmer's intellectual property - achieved a power conversion efficiency of 10.6%. Considering UCLA researchers have been working on tandem solar cells for a much shorter period of time compared with single-junction devices, rapid progress is expected, with 15% efficiencies on the horizon in just a few years' time.
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Documents and links
New Energy Technologies
Focusing on research, development and commercialisation of renewable energy technology
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
US federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development and deployment of renewable energy technologies
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