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6 September 2019

EU grants HIPERION project €10.6m

In the framework of its Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the ‘Increase the competitiveness of the EU PV manufacturing industry’ funding opportunity (grant agreement No. 857775), the European Commission has awarded €10.6m to the project HIPERION (HybrId Photovoltaics for Efficiency Record using Integrated Optical techNology) to ultimately strengthen the competitiveness of the European Union’s solar power industry in the high-performance segment.

Running from September for 48 months, the project’s 16-member consortium comprises: R&D center CSEM and startup Insolight SA (both of Switzerland); European PV research centers Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain), Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Germany) and Lodz University of Technology (Poland); industry partners Mondragon Assembly (Spain), X-Celeprint (Ireland), Argotech a.s. (Czech Republic), IQE plc (UK), Sonceboz (Switzerland), 3S Solar Plus (Switzerland) and ENGIE Laborelec (Belgium); solar installers Muon Electric (Portugal) and Milieu Studio (France); and Compaz – Communication through art and science (Switzerland) and L-UP SAS (France). The project is coordinated by R&D senior engineer Jacques Levrat of CSEM (Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique, or the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology).

The grant will aid in establishing a pilot assembly line to bring breakthrough photovoltaic technology, designed by startup Insolight SA (based at the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne, Switzerland), closer to market. Supported by private investors and several EU programs, Insolight is developing next-generation solar PV panels based on a patented optical technology.

Picture: Using an optical micro-tracking process that concentrates sunlight, Insolight’s technology achieves 29% efficiency in the pre-production phase.

Tested under concentrator standard test conditions (CSTC) in the pre-production phase, Insolight’s technology achieves solar energy conversion efficiency of 29% in a standard flat module. This is well above the efficiency levels of standard photovoltaic (PV) panels, which typically reach 18–20%.

The firm’s system uses a planar optical micro-tracking process that concentrates sunlight on multi-junction solar cells mounted on top of a conventional silicon back plane. Insolight’s solar panels are highly efficient under direct sunlight and can harvest energy under cloudy conditions as well, which is not the case for standard concentration systems.

Insolight has proven the effectiveness of its technology through extensive outdoor trials and at pilot installations. Its panels can be installed on standard rooftop or ground-mounted racks, or as an overlay on other solar panels.

Next step: large-scale production

The primary aim of HIPERION is to scale up the production of Insolight’s technology by showing solar panel manufacturers how they can adapt their existing production lines. “In addition to developing a pilot assembly line, we will also further demonstrate the performance and reliability of our innovation through qualification tests and several commercial pilot sites across Europe,” says CEO Laurent Coulot.

“Our consortium has the expertise needed to bring this promising technology one step closer to mass production by further testing its economic potential and developing an assembly process that can be integrated into existing PV module production lines,” says Christophe Ballif, vice president of CSEM and head of photovoltaics research. “Consortium members include several solar project developers that will assess the technology from the perspective of the rooftop and utility market segments.”

A win for the EU’s solar industry and for consumers

Insolight’s innovative design is said to sharply reduce solar power generation costs by significantly boosting efficiency, as it collects 50% more energy per square meter than traditional products. It is expected that combining this technology with the back-end manufacturing solutions that will be developed under the HIPERION project will give European PV manufacturers an edge over their mainstream competitors, putting them in a position to increase their share of the growing PV market.

Tags: PV

Visit: www.insolight.ch

Visit: www.csem.ch

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