- Industry Roundup
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Perovskite thin-film solar cells could be closer to commercialisation than expected after Oxford Photovoltaics (Oxford PV) made a critical appointment of a veteran leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing technologist as its Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Chris Case.
Organic thin-film producer, Heliatek, has claimed a lab-based OPV solar cell has achieved a conversion efficiency of 7.2% with 40% light transparency to meet the needs of glass manufacturers for both building integrated PV (BIPV) and automotive roof markets.
A new working group has been formed in Germany to support organic PV (OPV) firms and research institutes developing the thin-film technology.
Having dropped organic solar cells (OPV) that used fullerenes as the acceptor materials, imec has reported in ‘Nature Communications’ that it has produced a fullerene-free OPV cell with a record conversion efficiency of 8.4% and a 156cm2 module with a conversion efficiency of 5.3%.
Chinese state-owned PV manufacturer, CECEP Solar Energy Technology has used upgrades for Applied Materials ‘Baccini Esatto’ screen printers to produce average multicrystalline solar cell conversion efficiencies of 18.32%.
A syndicate of 11 commercial banks in China have provided technically bankrupt, LDK Solar with a RMB 1.56 billion (US$256 million) credit facility.
Japan-based specialty chemical company, Kuraray Co has invested in US-based start-up Vitriflex Inc to support the manufacturing ramp of its flexible ultra-barrier film that can be used to replace glass as an encapsulant in electronic devices, including solar PV products for consumer applications. Financial details were not disclosed.
Tasnee, a major Saudi Arabian petro-chemical company, is to make its second investment in DSC thin-film firm, Dyesol.
Australian-based dye solar cell developer, Dyesol, has appointed a new director responsible for international relationships with industry, analysts and investors.
Meyer Burger Group member Roth & Rau B.V. has formed a strategic alliance with materials science firm, Rolic Technologies to develop product offerings for the organic electronics, display, and security markets, which Rolic Technologies already serves.
Employing its liquid-based dye solar cell (DSC) substrate, Dyesol claimed it had surpassed the standard IEC 61646 design qualification for PV modules, without disclosing the approved testing house.
Dye solar cell (DSC) developer Dyesol has claimed a breakthrough in solid-state DSC efficiency of 11.3%. Typically best-in class efficiencies for such cells have been in the 5% range.
An aqueous-based silver nanoparticle ink technology developed in the last 10 years by chemicals giant Beyer has been acquired by high-tech chemicals specialist Clariant International.
Heliatek has achieved a record 12% conversion efficiency in its organic PV (OPV) cells using a vacuum-deposition process.
UK-based dye sensitised solar cell (DSSC) flexible thin-film manufacturer G24 Innovations has sought protection under administration, according to reports.
ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe has joined the Solliance (ECN, imec, TNO, Holst Centre, TU/e, Forschungszentrum Jülich) R&D alliance that is focused on organic photovoltaics (OPV) thin film technologies.
Belectric advised that the deal to acquire Konarka Technologies has been completed, with an agreement reached between the two companies. Konarka Technologies applied for insolvency earlier this year and began negotiations with several investors. Alexander Kubusch, preliminary insolvency administrator from Curator, commented, “…our talks have now reached a successful conclusion. Of the many interested parties, we ultimately opted for Belectric Holding, because this company not only offered an ideal solution to the issue of business operations but also went a long way toward upholding the interests of creditors.”
Imec and chemicals company Solvay are once again presenting the development of a new organic PV module. The companies have announced that the world-record certified 5.5% efficiency was achieved using an inverted bulk heterojunction architecture developed by imec, in close collaboration with Solvay and a proprietary ActivInk semiconductor from Polyera.
Armor Group, a French supplier of coated films for the thermal transfer printing industry, is stepping into the OPV solar cell manufacturing realm by investing €14 million (US$18 million) in a pilot OPV production line in La Chevrolière in western France, Les Echos revealed.
Heliatek has started a pilot production programme for its new solar film technology. Production is being carried out at its facility in Dresden, Germany, which was inaugurated in March 2011. Heliatek is a specialist in the manufacture of energy harvesting components made from flexible solar films based on organic semiconductor materials.
Dyesol announced that its biomimetic Dye Sensitized Solar Cell (DCS) has been doing exceedingly well in external performance testing, leading the company to begin plans for the next phase of the technology’s commercial development.
Following yesterday’s report that US-based Konarka Technologies is undergoing liquidation proceedings pursuant to Chapter 7 of the US Bankruptcy Code, it has now been announced that the thin-film company’s subsidiary in Germany has also filed for bankruptcy. Attorney Alexander Kubusch of national German insolvency administration firm CURATOR AG has been appointed as the preliminary insolvency administrator.
Failure to secure further funding has forced flexible thin-film manufacturer, Konarka Technologies into bankruptcy. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy via a Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court means full liquidation and asset sale to pay creditors. Since its initial venture capital funding in 2001, the company had raised around US$190 million to develop and market its roll-to-roll OPV (organic photovoltaic) technology.
Dresden, Germany-based OPV thin-film developer Heliatek has achieved a new organic tandem solar cell world record with 10.7% cell efficiency on a 1.1cm2 substrate. SGS undertook the testing and validated the figures. SGS also confirmed the OPV cell’s merits in low light and high temperature operation.
NanoMarkets has announced that it will publish two new reports in May, following its recent DSC and BIPV glass markets reports. The market research firm will publish “Opportunities in the Organic Photovoltaics Market 2012” and “BIPV Encapsulation Markets 2012” next month, which will conclude with eight-year forecasts of the both subjects, the OPV and BIPV encapsulation markets.
Dyesol has announced that, effective immediately, Gavin Tulloch will no longer serve in the consultant role of director of technology, a position he has been responsible for since October 2010. Details surrounding the end of the engagement were not disclosed, however, Dyesol did note that Tulloch will remain a non-executive director of the company.
Dyesol has announced that it has constructed Dye Sensitized Solar (DCS) solar panel prototypes. The panels exceed the size of 120cm x 60cm, which makes them the largest single-circuit series connected DCS panel up to date, to be used in BIPV applications.
The first roll-to-roll flexible OPV thin film plant using vacuum deposition of oligomers has been officially opened by Heliatek. The €14 million facility in Dresden, Germany has 1 pilot/production line initially with the expectation to launch commercial product offerings in around the third quarter of 2012. The first key market Heliatek is addressing is BIPV and has plans to raise a further €50 million for a full-scale production line. An opening ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich.
According to a report released by research and consultancy group IDTechEx, the market for printed electronics has the potential to reach around US$9.4 billion by the end of the year. This figure includes devices that are not currently printed but which are moving towards being printed, of which 30% of the devices under inclusion are made predominately by printing, and 6% are manufactured on a non-rigid substrate.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have achieved a new record of 10.6% for the power-conversion efficiency of an organic polymer solar cell. Certified by the United States’ National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the record was achieved using a tandem device to harvest a wider range of the solar spectrum.
The Plastics Electronics Conference, co-located with SEMICON Europa since 2010, has been acquired by trade group, SEMI. The conference the committee has organized includes industry and academic leaders in the field of organic and inorganic large area electronics (OLAE will serve as a plastic electronics special interest group, guiding SEMI activities and services worldwide). SEMI said the conference and exhibition format would be extended to other regions in the future.
An EU-funded project has been launched to encourage the development of new organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells. With a budget of €14.2 million, the four-year initiative is to be led by the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM).
Through collaboration with international charitable organization WorldVenture, South Sudan is now the fourth country in which Eight19’s pay-as-you-go off-grid PV system is in operation. The plan is to deploy 1,000 units in the first half of 2012 in South Sudan and a total of 3,000 units of its small flexible OPV modules in Kenya, Zambia and Malawi.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has, in collaboration with New Energy Technologies, produced its largest-area OPV module ever at 170cm2. The companies’ engineers have worked together on developing New Energy’s SolarWindow technology that allows the generation of electricity on see-through glass windows.
Heliatek’s OPV panels will be used in Reckli’s concrete walls to create a new solution in BIPV without compromising on aesthetics. Heliatek claims the flexibility of its panels allows them to be fully integrated into the concrete walls whilst maintaining efficiency.
Organic PV thin films may hold a significant promise of low cost electricity generation but longevity has been a key weakness of the technology. However, Konarka Technologies has become the first OPV manufacturer to become certified in compliance with IEC 61646, an accelerated lifetime testing protocol by TÜV Rheinland.
According to Polyera, the Newport Corporation’s PV cell lab has confirmed that Polyera’s polymer/fullerene OPV cell has achieved a 9.1% power conversion efficiency with an inverted bulk heterojunction architecture using ActivInk PV 2000 semiconductor material. The company said its active layer materials are able to be deposited using a wider range of film thickness without lower cell efficiency, which is said to improve yields and simplify manufacturing.
Nanotechnology-based thin-film materials specialist, Cambrios Technologies has received a US$5 million, Series D-3 financing round from Samsung Venture Investment Corporation as part of a prelude to further business collaborations on coating materials, which could include transparent electrodes for touch screens, liquid crystal displays, e-paper, OLED devices, OLED lighting and thin film photovoltaics.
UK-based organic thin film start-up, Eight19 has installed roll-to-roll printing equipment at its Cambridge, UK headquarters as a preliminary move towards volume production, as reported by PV-Tech’s sister-site, Solar Power Portal UK. Thought to be the largest of its kind in Europe, the bespoke facility includes a multi-station roll-to-roll fabrication machine which is designed to manufacture solar substrates. Eight19 expects to have the first of its commercial printed plastic solar modules available in 2013.
Lux Research’s latest report, Finding the Winning and Losing Companies in Printed, Flexible, and Organic Electronics, has rated technology developers in displays, OPVs, smart packaging, transparent conductive films and thin-film batteries to compile its list of some of the top companies in each category. Using its Lux Innovation Grid to reach each technology developer, Lux Research looked at the company’s technical value, business execution and maturity.
Japan-based Tanaka Precious Metals has taken-out licenses from the National Central University, Taiwan to manufacture and supply ruthenium-based dye compounds for next generation dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC). The ruthenium complex dye was developed by Professor Chun-Guey Wu and post-doctoral researcher, Chia-Yuan Chen, with reported conversion efficiencies of 11.4%, reported in the scientific journal, ACS nano in 2009, operating in the visible light wavelength range of approximately 400 to 750 nanometers.
Dye-sensitized solar thin-film specialist, Dyesol has claimed a 15% increase in the efficiency performance of large DSC strip cells has been achieved, bringing industrial DSC efficiency up from 6.9% to 8% in 2011. The increase in efficiency results were said to come from improvements in materials and structural design elements.
A new world-record efficiency of 8.3% has been claimed for a polymer-based single junction organic solar cell in an inverted device stack. Research house, imec and industrial partners Polyera and Solvay developed the proprietary inverted bulk heterojunction architecture, which resulted in achieving much higher efficiencies that other organic thin film cells have to date. Work is ongoing to increase the cell size and lifetime, a key challenge for organic-based cells.
Fraunhofer ISE CalLab has certified a 9.8% cell efficiency for Heliatek’s 1.1cm² tandem organic solar cell, which was created with a low temperature deposition process. The company’s in-house measurements have demonstrated that scaling up its record-breaking cells to a panel with a size factor >120 produces efficiency over 9% for the active module area. Heliatek notes that its new record is the third in a row that it has set for efficiency in OPV.
Working with its 16 project partners Imec has launched the European FP7 project X10D. The collaboration will see the companies working towards the development of tandem organic solar cells that boast increased conversion efficiency, a longer lifetime and a smaller production cost. Imec advised that the overarching goal of the project is to bring OPV technologies into the competitive thin-film PV market.
Roll-to-roll PV manufacturing will receive a boost with the news that imec’s Holst Centre, an open-innovation initiative, has teamed up with nTact for developments in the field of flexible electronics. nTact is the trade name for FAS Holdings Group, a US manufacturer of high-precision deposition systems for the microelectronics and energy industries.
Organic PV company Konarka Technologies is working alongside the colour and construction unit of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe to develop a number of building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) solutions using its Power Plastic.
One announcement that has been creating quite a buzz at this year’s EU PVSEC exhibition and conference is Konarka’s news that it is venturing down the BIPV route with its organic solar cells. Outlining the company’s strategy during a press conference at the show, company CEO, director and cofounder Howard Berke stated that it was a natural move for the company, whose 1cm2 single-junction OPV cells have been verified by NREL as having 8.29% efficiency.
Belgian research centre imec has announced the development of its new organic PV cell. Developed in conjunction with Pennsylvanian technology company Plextronics and Belgian chemical company Solvay, the polymer-based single junction cell achieves an efficiency of up to 6.9%. A module using the same polymer achieved an efficiency of 5% across an area of 25cm2.
Dyesol advised that it had completed the delivery and installation of equipment for DyeTec Solar’s dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC)-based BIPV program, which is funded by the Ohio Third Frontier Fund. The equipment was delivered to DyeTec’s Toledo, Ohio facility with Dyesol noting that it had relocated staff with a DSC background to the site. Management and technical personnel moved to Ohio in May and completed the first phase of the program, which has allowed Dye Tec to commence building prototype panels.