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US research consortium to boost perovskite solar cell commercialization

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By Nick Flaherty

A consortium in the US is aiming to boost the manufacturing of thin film perovskite solar cells.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds at the University of Washington, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Toledo have formed the US Manufacturing of Advanced Perovskites Consortium (US-MAP).

Early investments by the US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and its Office of Science has stimulated perovskite research for low cost thin film solar cells. “Perovskites have the potential to become a game-changer for solar and many other fields,” said Martin Keller, director of NREL. “By combining our research efforts, this new consortium will bring this technology to market sooner than if we were all operating alone.”

“We have a talented team of physicists on faculty making significant advancements using perovskites to make solar energy more affordable, working closely with students and our industry partners,” said Dr. Michael Heben, professor of physics at the University of Toledo and a leading researcher in this field working on studying the reliability of perovskite solar cells.

“UToledo is already well known internationally for its work on cadmium telluride solar cells, which are already being manufactured at large scale by First Solar,” he said. “We are proud to share our resources and expertise to support U.S. companies in the face of international competition and help the country have control over our energy infrastructure.”

While perovskite cells have shown promise in the lab, more work remains to be done to ensure that the technology is ready for commercial success, says NREL. Manufacturing, durability, and sustainability remain challenges and will be the consortium’s research focus. Members of US-MAP will share research and development, validation, and pilot manufacturing, which will reduce development costs and technology risks for potential investors. In Europe, imec in Belgium has been leading on pervoskite cell development as part of teh EnergyVille consortium and Oxford PV has built a production line for the technology in Germany. 

US-MAP has six major US-based industry players as founding members: BlueDot Photonics, Energy Materials Corporation, First Solar, Hunt Perovskites Technologies, Swift Solar, and Tandem PV. Representatives from each of these companies, as well as new US startups and other established companies will form an industry advisory board that will inform and guide the efforts performed at the research institutions. The founding researchers will form the executive board that will oversee delivery on projects.

The organizers and members of US-MAP have already begun expanding this network to include the University of Colorado at Boulder and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. They are also looking at  funding from a variety of sources including industrial members and the federal government. Leadership of the consortium will be provided at NREL by and Jao van de Lagemaat, who will work with the key points of contact of the other founding organizers and industrial advisory board.

“Forming this collective will enable innovation in the U.S. that will strengthen our position in these important materials and associated technologies,” said Joseph J. Berry, the consortium director, senior scientist, and perovskite team lead for NREL.

www.nrel.gov/research/us-map.html

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