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Printed Electronics World
Posted on October 29, 2010 by  & 

Screen printable solar cells

Oxford Photovoltaics is one of 4 companies to receive £100,000 to help them develop new technologies after they were declared the winners in a unique competition launched by the UKs Technology Strategy Board.
The company will commercialise new solar glazing technology which has the potential to become a dominant solution in the Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) market. The glazing technology is printed directly on glass and can be semi-transparent in a wide range of colours.
The low cost, stable and fully scalable solar cell technology combines the benefits of inexpensive, abundant organic materials with simple screen printing manufacturing technology.
The need for a low cost solution
The solar photovoltaic industry is growing fast but the high material cost of crystalline Si-cells has resulted in the search for alternative low cost solutions such as thin film solar cell technology. Currently available thin film solar cells are making inroads but use scarce elements and rare earths in their construction, for example Indium and Tellurium. Another emerging thin film technology, Dye-Sensitised Solar Cells (DSSCs), can be efficient, but conventionally use liquid-electrolytes which are volatile, corrosive and difficult to seal, hence severely limit the overall performance.
No liquids but simply solid state
Oxford Photovoltaics' solid-state version of DSSCs employs an organic hole-transporter to replace the liquid electrolyte. Oxford's DSSCs are fabricated using simple screen printing techniques and are constructed from abundant, environmentally benign and very low cost materials. The efficiency of the demonstrator cells is impressive and the predicted manufacturing costs are estimated at ~50% below the current lowest cost of thin film technologies.
The solar cells meet the challenges faced by the current photovoltaic industry and are expected to achieve unsubsidised electricity generation costs that are equivalent to the Levelised Energy Cost (LEC) of fossil fuels via its DSSC technology claim the company.
Enabling the building integrated photovoltaics market
The Oxford PV technology is likely to be of great interest in all market sectors. The overall solar photovoltaic industry is growing at a cumulative rate of over 40% per annum and is predicted to become a $24bn market within 2 years.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) is an emerging market where the PV modules are integrated directly into the building architecture, for example as glazing panels and building facades. The total BIPV market is anticipated to be $10bn by the end of 2015 and is of strong interest to major property developers, architects and construction companies. Oxford devices through their unique selling points such as solid state format, tunable colour, transparency options, print based manufacturing process, and good operation under a wide range of light conditions, are very well suited for BIPV applications.
Patent Status
The IP is protected by four UK priority patent applications.
Reference: ISIS Innovation
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