Oerlikon to lead new PV materials research project

The aim of the project is to further enhance performance and decrease costs of thin film silicon modules within the next three years.

Project PEPPER came into being earlier this year with finance of Euro 16.7 million, Euro 9.4m of which is financed by the European Commission - DG Energy.

According to Oerlikon, the goal of the project is to demonstrate high performance processes and equipment for thin film silicon PV modules produced with lower costs, reduced material use, and an even improved environmental-friendly production process. The project tackles the major influences on Micromorph module efficiency and production cost by assessing the influences of glass, gas, transparent conductive oxide (TCO) and silicon deposition as part of the production process.

The members of the project, in addition to Oerlikon Solar, are the Photovoltaics Laboratory of the Institute of Microengineering at EPFL (IMT-Neuchâtel, Switzerland), the Universities of Northumbria (UK) and Patras (Greece), Bosch Solar Thin Film (Germany, module production), Heliosphera (Greece, module production) and Linde (Germany, gas supply).

Having industry and university partners as part of the project transfers new developments and improvements directly into production plants where the full impact on module efficiency and costs can be evaluated. The company believes that achieving the goals of this project will further increase the competitiveness of thin film silicon Micromorph technology not only compared to other photovoltaic technologies but also with other energy generating technologies:

"I am very pleased that Oerlikon Solar's research efforts are being recognized through this project selected for a FP7 grant by the DG Energy of the European Commission," said Dr. Juerg Henz, CEO Oerlikon Solar. "Driving down costs while raising the efficiency is key to economically viable solar power. With this impressive consortium of experienced research and industry leaders we will continue our path in making thin film silicon the competitive, clean and sustainable energy source of tomorrow."

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity