BIPV cell developer wins "disruptive solutions" competition

UK-based Oxford Photovoltaics has scooped £100,000 to commercialise new solar glazing technology, which the judges believe has the potential to become a dominant solution in the Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) market.

Oxford PV’s solid-state version of dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSC) employs an organic hole-transporter to replace the liquid electrolyte. They are fabricated using simple screen printing techniques and are constructed from abundant, environmentally benign and extremely low cost materials.

The efficiency of the demonstrator cells and the predicted manufacturing costs are estimated at ~50% below the current lowest cost of thin film technologies. At 8% efficiency, Oxford PV cells are already expected to compete on price with conventional technologies and have the potential of realising an overall efficiency of more than 20%.

The specific innovations encompassed in the patents covering this technology enable increased solar light capture and current generation efficiency; essential improvements in device stability; and scaling. The solar cell is semi-transparent, capable of lasting for 20 years and the company claims that it could facilitate the creation of attractive and cheap solar glazing, not achievable with current technology.

The overall solar photovoltaic industry is growing at a cumulative rate of over 40% per annum and is predicted to become a US$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 windows
or facades.

Oxford PV's technology is likely to be of interest in all market sectors, but especially BIPV since its unique selling points are tuneable colour, transparency options and good operation under a wide range of light conditions.

About the competition

The Technology Strategy Board's disruptive strategy competition was launched in September 2010, and 550 businesses submitted two-minute video pitches outlining proposals in one of four themes - energy, digital, healthcare and sustainability.

These were assessed and shortlisted to 15 ideas in each of the four themes, and the companies behind them were invited to make written submissions. After a further assessment three finalists for each theme were selected and invited to pitch at Innovate10 for the £100,000 funding.

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Green building  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity