30 November 2010
A £4.4 million solar energy project led by Glyndwr University in the UK will develop new photovoltaic solar cells optimized for collecting solar energy in the weather conditions common in Wales.
It is estimated that photovoltaic solar cells will provide 20% of the electricity needs of Wales by 2050, but adoption of solar technology has been slow because of prohibitively high costs and because solar cells aren’t yet tailored to gain maximum efficiency from solar energy in countries with temperate climates, such as Wales. Glyndwr University’s Centre for Solar Energy Research in St. Asaph will develop the optimized photovoltaic (PV) solar cells as part of the Solar Photovoltaic Academic Research Consortium Cymru.
The researchers will develop new technologies and innovations to tackle the cost and weather challenges. Researchers at the Centre for Solar Energy Research will work with scientists from Bangor and Swansea universities to complete the three year project, which is partially funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government.
“This is very much a collaborative project, with our expertise in solar energy being combined with the electronics technology expertise of Swansea University in improving efficiency when converting the energy into electricity which can be used on the National Grid,” said Professor Stuart Irvine, Director of the Centre. "The project also combines our thin film technology with innovative dye sensitized solar cells with research at Bangor and Swansea Universities”.
The researchers currently have cells that are 5 cm square but aim to develop test modules that are 30 cm square, much closer to a size of solar cell that can be used commercially.
Written by Nancy Lamontagne, Contributing Editor - US