The Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will fund the establishment of the network, which is comprised of 29 scientists and engineers working in the field of advanced solar cell research at 13 universities across Canada. 11 private sector companies are also involved.
The solar PV research network will be based at McMaster University in Hamilton (Ontario) and expects to train 88 research personnel over five years to provide skilled solar PV employees for positions in industry and academia. It is one of 11 research networks announced by Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement, which will receive total funding of C$56m over five years through NSERC.
“Our government’s investments in science and technology are creating jobs, stimulating the economy and improving Canadians’ quality of life,” says Clement.
“The network will develop new intellectual property in PV for adoption by Canadian industry to supply strong domestic demand currently met by foreign companies,” adds Scientific Drector Rafael Kleiman of McMaster.
The collaborative and multi-disciplinary solar PV research programme will increase the conversion efficiency of solar PV and reduce costs to make large-scale deployment of solar PV more competitive against electricity generation from fossil fuels.
The four central research themes are:
- Organic solar PV devices with inherently low costs of materials and manufacturing;
- Inorganic solar PV devices which to date are the mostly widely deployed (the most common of which are silicon-based);
- Hybrid organic / inorganic solar PV devices that have the potential to combine the lower costs of organic devices with the higher efficiencies of inorganic devices; and
- New solar PV devices and architectures which take advantage of the unique properties of nano-structured materials.
Transparent solar cells which are optimised for integration into house or building windows and socioeconomic factors related to adoption of solar PV technology, will also be considered.
Other networks funded are HydroNet (a national research network to promote sustainable hydropower based at the Université de Montréal) and Biomaterials & Chemicals Strategic Network (develop technologies based on cost effective harvesting of biomass and efficient biofuels, based at the University of British Columbia).
NSERC is a federal agency which supports 28,000 students and post-doctoral fellows in advanced studies. It funds 11,800 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging 1500 Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.