West of England Metals and Materials Association
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The Materials Challenges for Low Cost Photovoltaic Solar Energy

Stuart J C Irvine, Centre for Solar Energy Research, OpTIC Technium, Glyndwr University

Venue: University of the West of England, Room 1N5

Wednesday February 16, 2011 at 19:30

The global photovoltaic (PV) industry has continued its rapid growth with deliveries of PV modules increasing by about 40 % per year over the past decade. Despite the global recession, the PV industry has continued to grow, mostly driven by market incentive schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff. However, alongside other micro-generation technologies, PV looks expensive with competitive electricity generation depending on location as well as the cost of the system. Higher volume manufacture has helped to reduce the price of PV modules and installation but further cost reduction lies in the materials used to manufacture PV modules. This talk will explore the materials technologies that used in PV modules and the potential for increased conversion efficiency and reduced cost. Crystalline silicon continues to dominate the market but new thin film products are being produced on a larger scale than before and will result in both a larger share of the market and lower cost PV products. Materials research to address these issues will be outlined. This has underlined the importance of achieving large scale production, higher solar conversion efficiency and materials sustainability. The prospect of lower cost PV modules based on dye sensitized solar cells and polymers is attracting an increased investment in both R&D and pilot production. What will PV modules look like in the future and how will they perform against their current counterparts? The adaption of PV materials to the built environment might mean that we won’t even recognize them.

Photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Eden Centre
Roof of Eden Centre

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