Academics and industry have designed a new lightweight, cost-effective solar cell.
Scientists from the University of Sheffield and an energy technology company, Power Roll, have published a study in a journal called Energy and Environmental Science.
The study shows a 3D design which removes many of the manufacturing process steps required by existing photovoltaics (PV) modules and allows new materials to be used that would not usually be appropriate in regular solar cells.
Professor David Lidzey, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Sheffield, said: “There is global interest in using solar cells to generate low carbon, green electricity. The design of the back contacted solar module is both innovative and elegant, and can potentially reduce optical losses within the device.’’
Power Roll predicts that solar modules produced using this design will weigh only a fraction of an equivalent-power conventional solar module which could benefit less developed and off-grid areas of the world where it is not viable to transport heavy solar panels.
Building on the work published in this paper, the University of Sheffield and Power Roll have successfully produced working mini-module demonstrators. Power Roll is now focusing on scaling up the technology ready for commercialisation.
Neil Spann, CEO of Power Roll, said: “We believe that our patented architecture is a game changer. The market opportunities for our solar PV product are significant, including off-grid solutions, commercial and domestic systems, powering the internet of things, portable power generation and military applications. This technology will deliver significant economic and social benefits to end users.”