With domestic funding opportunities for UK solar drying up considerably in recent months, a number of firms are looking further afield for opportunities to develop new products and opportunities in the solar market.

One of the routes to this support is through Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation funding programme which has a budget of around €6billion for energy innovation between 2014 and 2020.

The 2016 Calls have a total budget of over €500m and will cover a range of technology areas including energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies, smart grids and smart cities.

One of the companies already benefitting from Horizon 2020 is Dyesol UK, which is working on the GOTSolar project with partners in Portugal, Switzerland and Poland. Chris Moore, technology manager at Dyesol UK, explains to SPP what its involvement in the project is, and how other UK firms can get involved in Horizon 2020 projects.

What is Dyesol UK’s role in the GOTSolar project?

Dyesol UK is one of seven members of the GOTSolar consortium and is leading the industrial upscaling part of the development programme. High efficiency perovskite based devices will be fabricated and hermetically encapsulated using a new laser assisted encapsulation process to enable high durability. These devices will be tested under accelerated aging conditions to validate the new process and to demonstrate the scalability of technologies developed as part of the project. This forms a key aspect of Dyesol’s roadmap for metal based flexible modules with 20 years of lifetime.

What have been your experiences during your time on the project?

GOTsolar is a new project which started in January this year, and since the initial kick-off meeting we have been working very closely with all our partners to ensure we understand the critical interfaces between work packages to ensure the project runs smoothly.

Since we all are professionals and experts in our field, this experience – together with expansion of Dyesol’s network in Europe – has been very useful and has benefitted other aspects of our work.

How easy was it to get involved in a Horizon 2020 team?

Dyesol is very well networked in Europe through previous EU funded Framework 7 programmes as well as independent collaborations. This enabled us to form a highly credible consortium of high profile partners each with specific expertise in different areas, but with the common ambition to commercialise the unique technology of perovskite solar cells.

We were then able to put together a robust proposal based on longstanding academic and industrial relationships to get the best from our complementary capabilities.

What advice would you give to other UK firms seeking funding from Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 is a very competitive funding process. A coherent project proposal from a capable consortium is a must.

My advice to the UK firms seeking H2020 funding would be to take the application process very seriously and take the time to develop an excellent proposal that tells a common message. This can be challenging given tight timeframes and multiple contributors, so plan ahead. Create a good international consortium, address all the points mentioned in the call, and allow time for finalising the documents.

Even very good proposals fail to win funding, so if you are unsuccessful the first time, be prepared to try again, as the scheme is great for funding high-risk development activities and supporting existing programmes.

For more on innovation and funding opportunities in the UK and Europe, check out our print title Solar Business Focus UK, available later this month.