Spain's Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC) is leading a €10.2 million EU-funded project set up to achieve a breakthrough in the cost efficiency of photovoltaic devices and modules based on thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) technology. It is one of the largest energy R&D projects funded by the European Commission in Spain.
Project SCALENANO part of the FP7-ENERGY programme, will develop and scale-up innovative chalcogenide PV technology using environmentally friendly and sustainable processes, with lower costs and higher efficiencies.
A consortium of 13 R&D European groups has been set up to include five Research Institutes: IREC (Catalonia Institute for Energy Research, Spain), EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories Materials Science and Technology, Switzerland), IIT (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy), CEA (Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives, France), HZB (Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, Germany)), four Universities (UNOTT (University of Notthingham, UK), UL (Université de Luxembourg, Luxemburg), SUPSI (Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland), Free University Berlin (Germany)) and four companies from different sectors (Merck KGaA (Chemical), NEXCIS (Photovoltaics), IMPT (Thin film technologies), Semilab (Metrology).
Initially, the project will exploit the potential of non vacuum processes based in nanostructured materials as electrochemical synthesis of nanocrystalline precursors and printing of nanoparticle based inks, as well as novel chemical based deposition processes for the development of modules on large area substrates with improved uniformity and at lower production costs. Improvement of production yield and throughput will be investigated by the implementation of suitable Quality Control and Process monitoring techniques. Adaptation of these technologies to new cell architecture concepts based in the use of nanostructured Transparent Conductive Oxides (TCOs) will be investigated for the achievement of higher device and module efficiencies. The project will also include the extension of these processes to next generation kesterite based materials to address the problem that will be created in the future massive deployment of CIGS technologies by scarce materials.
About the Catalonia Institute for Energy (IREC)
The IREC is the leading centre for research in the energy sector in Catalonia. Created in 2008, it is specialised in technological research and development activities related to saving energy, energy efficiency and renewable energies. More specifically, it has research lines based on technologies related to micro networks, electric vehicles, energy storage, building efficiency, bioenergy and biofuels, and offshore wind energy.
The IREC has headquarters in both Barcelona and Tarragona. Its trustees are the Government of Catalonia, through the Ministry of Enterprise and Labour and the Ministry of Economy and Knowledge, and the Government of Spain, through the Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology Research (CIEMAT) and the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE). The remaining trustees include the University of Barcelona; the Technical University of Catalonia; Rovira i Virgili University; Endesa; Gas Natural Fenosa; the Repsol Foundation; Enagás; Compañía Logística de Hidrocarburos (CLH) and Alstom.