PARIS – A consortium of European companies and research institutes was formed to build a network for the interdisciplinary training of researchers in advanced thin-film photovoltaic technologies.
The KESTCELLS project, with a total budget of over 3.7 million euros ($4.8 million), focuses on the development of PV technologies based on kesterite, and processes compatible with the efficiency, sustainability and mass production requirements needed to become a reliable and future alternative to conventional non-renewable energy sources.
Kesterites are quaternary compounds with a crystalline structure very similar to that of chalcopyrites (CIGS). They have a potential for thin film low cost PV technologies, related to their direct bandgap and high optical absorption. In contrast with CIGS -where the potential for high mass production is compromised by the scarcity of In- they are constituted by abundant elements.
“We are looking at developing PV technologies based on kesterite material, a mineral heavy in copper and zinc, to meet the cost, efficiency and sustainability requirements for mass production of solar cells needed for solar energy”, stated Professor Susanne Siebentritt, head of the Laboratory for Photovoltaics, Physics Research Unit, at the University of Luxembourg. “With this training network we can keep Europe on the path to being a leader in solar energy.”
The four-year project gathers experts in the development of kesterite cells, including the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin fur Materialen und Energy GmbH, University of Luxembourg, with groups with strong knowledge about CIGS technologies, including EMPA, Uppsala Universitet, Nexcis, Irec, Free University Berlin, University d'Aix-Marseille, France, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.
Consortium researchers will work on the strategic development of PV technologies in Europe, in line with the Technology Roadmap for PV Energy of the European Commission. Twelve doctoral students and two postdocs will be trained for the duration of the project in aspects related to fundamental materials science, advanced growth techniques in thin-film technologies, techniques for advanced characterization and process monitoring, modeling and design of devices, as well as aspects related to the innovation and industrial implementation of production lines and market analysis.
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