UK Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills Pat McFadden and Indian Minister for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan announced the collaboration while chairing the bilateral India-UK Science and Innovation Council in New Delhi last week.
Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST) have each committed up to £5m each over a three-year period for two research projects:
- Advancing the efficiency and production of excitonic solar cells: focusing on the development of materials, structures, processing and solar photovoltaic (PV) panel engineering of excitonic solar cells - a class of non-conventional solar cell based on new types of materials. It will build on existing research in both the UK and India to develop cheaper and higher volume solar cell manufacture. RCUK and DST have awarded £2.5m each for this project; and
- Stability and performance of solar PV: focusing on improving materials supply and developing better designs to ultimately create cheaper and more efficient devices than current solar cells. RCUK and DST have awarded £2.4m each for this project.
McFadden says: "As well as helping the UK to meet its 2020 goals, it will complement India's ambitious plans to deploy 20 million solar lighting systems to 10,000 villages and hamlets currently without access to grid electricity. This will spur advances in healthcare, education and productivity through the creation of new jobs."
Further announcements include an agreement between the RCUK Energy programme, led by the EPSRC and the DST to build upon the success of the solar initiative and begin planning two further collaborative research programmes:
- Bridging the Urban/ Rural Divide will focus on making rural living a sustainable option for both countries. A joint programme focussing on utilising transformative ICT for advances in health care and off-grid energy supply, will be developed to enable whole systems, multi-disciplinary research to address these challenging areas.
- Materials for Fuel Cells will address challenges in energy storage.