A coalition of organisations, including Nottingham University, has secured an EU-funded €10 million research grant for the development of low cost thin film technologies.

The ‘Scalenano’ project aims to develop and scale-up an innovative chalcogenide photovoltaic technology by using environmentally friendly and sustainable processes with lower costs and higher efficiencies. The scheme will become one of the largest research and development projects in the field of energy generation.

Professor Kwang-Leong Choy, who is leading Nottingham University’s research group, explained why she has become involved in the project: “As the global supply of fossil fuels declines, the ability to generate sustainable energy will become absolutely vital. Generating electricity by converting solar radiation into electricity potentially provides us with an unlimited source of energy.”

Currently, expensive necessities in the manufacture process of advanced thin-film photovoltaics such as vacuum processes and high temperatures have meant that the associated costs have often been prohibitive. In addition, issues surrounding uniformity and the limited supply of Indium have also pushed up the cost.  

Breakthroughs unearthed from the collaborative research between the thirteen different organisations will be tested on a pilot production line in the hopes of pioneering methods for manufacturing solar cells with higher efficiency and lower costs.   

Choy concluded: “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.”