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KESTCELLS: New EU research consortium aims to develop a network for researchers in photovoltaics

With a total budget of over 3.7 million €, the new KESTCELLS research project, which aims to develop a network for the interdisciplinary training of researchers in advanced thin films photovoltaic (PV) technologies, will increase the European competitiveness of existing technologies.

The University of Luxembourg team lead by Professor Susanne Siebentritt, head of the Laboratory for Photovoltaics, Physics Research Unit, has joined the project and will examine the basic semiconductor physics of new materials used in solar cells.

The overall objective of this project, which runs from September 2012 to August 2016, is the creation of a Marie Curie Initial Training Network for the structured interdisciplinary training of researchers in advanced thin film PV technologies. A lack of professionals with these competences has already been identified as one of the main risks for the future development and consolidation of a competitive European PV sector.

“We are looking at developing PV technologies based on kesterite material, a mineral heavy in copper and zinc, to meet the cost, efficiency and sustainability requirements for mass production of solar cells needed for solar energy”, explains Prof. Siebentritt. “With this training network we can keep Europe on the path to being a leader in solar energy”, she continues.

These new materials have a high potential for low cost thin film PV technologies, as kesterites are formed by abundant and cheap elements. The project proposes the development of PV technologies based on kesterite, and processes compatible with the efficiency requirements needed to become a reliable and future alternative to conventional non-renewable energy sources.

This collective of high level researchers will ensure the further strategic development of PV technologies in Europe, as described by the Technology Roadmap for PV Energy of the European Commission. Twelve doctoral students and two postdocs will be trained for the duration of the project in complementary aspects related to fundamental materials science, advanced growth techniques in thin film technologies, techniques for advanced characterisation and process monitoring, modelling and design of devices, as well as aspects related to the innovation and industrial implementation of production lines and market analysis.

The 3rd European Kesterite Workshop, Luxembourg 22 and 23 November, 2012

The University of Luxembourg is pleased to be bringing together experts from all over Europe who work on kesterite solar cells. These thin film solar cells contain only abundant and non-toxic elements and have the potential to become the next generation of solar cells.

Professors and researchers will discuss the growth of kesterite films and crystals, electronic and structural properties of kesterite materials and solar cell structure and characterisation.

Notes for the editor

This project is part of the FP7-PEOPLE programme of the EU Commission. The consortium consists of 11 groups with strong and well recognised experience in these fields. This includes IREC, Catalonia Institute for Energy Research, Spain as the coordinator group; Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, Germany; EMPA, Swiss Federal Laboratories Materials Science and Technology, Switzerland; six Universities; University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg; Northumbria University, United Kingdom; Aix-Marseille University, France; Free University Berlin, Germany; Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain; University of Uppsala-Angstrom Solar Center, Sweden; and two companies NEXCIS, Photovoltaics, France and ASNT, Abengoa Solar New Technologies, Solar Energy, Spain.

Britta Schlüter | idw
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