The European Union and the regional governments co-fund the Solar Flare project in the Eindhoven-Leuven region. It focuses on increasing the efficiency and reducing the cost in the development of thin-film solar energy.
One of the emphasized points in the European Climate policy and the EU2020 strategy is the large-scale development and application of solar energy. A potential future alternative to the existing Si-PV technology is through the development of a thin-film PV technology. Reducing the cost of harnessing solar energy via this technology is the aim of the Solar Flare project. Currently, thin-film solar cells have an efficiency of around 13% for modules. Therefore, to make sure that the thin-film PV is a viable alternative to Si-PV, the efficiencies should be similar to today’s mainstream modules of 17%.
The project will definitely encourage and promote networking in this area. The Flare Solar project will stimulate the development of alternative thin-film and CIGS technologies. These are based on novel materials and generic technologies, which are significantly important for the industry. One such example is transparent conductive layers, which is under investigation. Apart from cost, aesthetic and response to indirect light plays an important role in the integration of solar cells in windows. Hence this type of surface must enable niche-applications. A specific cost of Ownership model for TF-PV will be developed and put into use in order to facilitate estimation of the potential for local industries to develop thin film PV technologies.
Monique Swinnen, (Deputy of the province of Vlaams-Brabant (Flanders) and member of the steering group Interreg Flanders-The Netherlands), says that the solar energy will undoubtedly play an important role in the EU2020 strategy. In this global market, cross-border collaboration is essential to strengthen the position of their local industry, and they will continue supporting open innovation in the region.
Solliance is an initiative to leverage the complementarities of the Solliance partners and strengthen the competitive position of the Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen triangle (ELAT region). The project runs within the framework of Solliance, and is a relevant player in the global thin-film PV market. Creating synergy among more than 250 researchers, Solliance aligns different research programs, shares state-of-the-art infrastructure and assures close cooperation within the solar business community.
Along with the European Union, the inter-regional Solar Flare project is also funded by Interreg Flanders-Netherlands, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (The Netherlands), and the provinces of North Brabant (The Netherlands) and Flemish Brabant and Limburg (Belgium). ECN, TNO, Imec, Holst Centre, TU/e and the University of Hasselt/IMO are the partners within the project.
Some Insight on IMEC
By leveraging its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy, Imec performs world-leading nano-electronics research and also delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. By working in a unique high-tech environment, its diverse top talent is committed to provide the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society.
Headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, Imec has its offices in the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China, India and Japan. Including more than 600 industrial residents and guest researchers, it has a staff of close to 2000 people. Imec’s revenue (P&L) was about 300 million euro in 2011. You can retrieve more information on www.imec.be.