22 January 2018
ZSW and IPVF agree five-year CIGS PV collaboration
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.
ZSW (Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung — or Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research — Baden-Württemberg) in Stuttgart, Germany and the Paris-based Institut Photovoltaïque d'Île de France (IPVF) have signed a deal (for an initial term of five years) forming a Franco-German alliance cooperating on energy research to develop the next generation of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cells.
ZSW has about 235 scientists, engineers and technicians employed at three locations in Stuttgart, Ulm and Widderstall, plus 90 research and student assistants. It is a member of the Innovationsallianz Baden-Württemberg (innBW), a group of 13 non-university, applied research institutes.
Founded in October 2013, IPVF is an industrial-academic partnership at the initiative of EDF and Total, CNRS and École polytechnique, and in association with Air Liquide, Horiba Jobin Yvon and Riber. It organizes partners’ research activities in photovoltaic solar energy on a local, national and international level. With an initial budget of €150m, the project partly benefits from French public funding through the Investments for the Future Program under grant number ANRIEED-002-01. Within a new building on the Paris-Saclay campus, IPVF can host up to 200 PV researchers and offers 4000m2 of lab space.
The collaboration aims to optimize the upcoming thin-film photovoltaic technology, boost its efficiency and cut costs. CIGS cell efficiency has risen by 3.6 percentage points over the past five years. At 14-15%, CIGS thin-film solar modules sold today are challenging the silicon modules that dominate the market.
The researchers’ agenda is to further exploit CIGS potential to strengthen and accelerate the deployment of photovoltaics. To reach climate protection targets, increasing the efficiency of PV modules at low costs in a short-term perspective is of key importance, they add.
The joint effort will focus on flexible solar cells and modules. The objective is to gain a deeper understanding of the processes in the solar cell and then increase cell efficiency. New materials and material combinations for flexible solar cells are also on the agenda, as is joint participation in research initiatives and an exchange program for the two institutes’ researchers and doctoral students.