Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Durham University leads UK research project into cheaper solar energy

15.01.2008
A national team of scientists led by experts at Durham University are embarking on one of the UK’s largest ever research projects into photovoltaic (PV) solar energy.

The £6.3million PV-21 programme will focus on making thin-film light absorbing cells for solar panels from sustainable and affordable materials.

The four-year project, which begins in April (2008), is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under the SUPERGEN initiative.

Eight UK universities, led by Durham and including Bangor, Bath, Cranfield, Edinburgh, Imperial College London, Northumbria and Southampton, are involved in the project.

They will work together with nine industrial partners towards a “medium to long-term goal” of making solar energy more competitive and sustainable, particularly in light of the recent rise in fossil fuel prices.

At present solar cells – used to convert light energy into electricity - are made from key components such as the rare and expensive metal indium which costs approximately £320 ($660) per kilogram.

To cut costs in solar cell production the research team will work to reduce the thickness of the cells.

Making a solar semiconductor thinner by one millionth of a metre in solar cells generating one gigawatt of power could save 50 tonnes of material.

Researchers will also experiment with sustainable low-cost materials which could be used in the manufacturing of solar cells and on the use of nanotechnology and dyes on ultra-thin silicon to capture increased amounts of energy from the sun’s rays.

Principal investigator Professor Ken Durose, in the Department of Physics, at Durham University, said: “With the rapid increase in fossil fuel prices and the recent Government announcement about investment in nuclear power it is even more important that we look at long-term future energy generation from solar power.

“At present you would need tens of tonnes of very rare and expensive materials for large scale production of solar cells to produce sizeable amounts of power.

“Some of the materials currently used may not be sustainable in 20 years time which is why we have to conduct research into alternative materials that are cheaper to buy and more sustainable.

“We are also leading the way in making ultra-thin solar cells that need less material.

“Our medium to long-term goal is to make a major contribution to achieving competitive photovoltaic solar energy, which we hope will lead to an uptake in the use of solar power.”

The latest funding follows an initial four-year research project by PV-21 focusing on the development of thin-layer PV cells using compound semiconductors based on the cadmium telluride and chalcopyrite systems.

This work will form the basis for testing new ideas over the next four years.

Chris Pywell, Head of Strategic Economic Change at regional development agency One NorthEast, said: “This project will add substantially to the position of North East England which is already at the forefront of photovoltaic energy research.

“This leading position presents a great opportunity to the region as the world addresses climate change. As well as the strengths of Durham and Northumbria universities that are demonstrated by this success, we have the PV development facilities at NaREC, the new PETEC facilities at NETPark, and great businesses such as ROMAG.

“The Agency, Durham University and our other partners are committed to building on this new project and our many other successes to ensure the region leads the UK in renewable energy.”

Leighton Kitson | alfa
Further information:
http://www.durham.ac.uk

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Neuron and synapse-mimetic spintronics devices developed
17.04.2019 | Tohoku University

nachricht New discovery makes fast-charging, better performing lithium-ion batteries possible
16.04.2019 | Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>