Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/W010062/1
Title Reimagining Photovoltaics Manufacturing
Status Started
Energy Categories Renewable Energy Sources(Solar Energy, Photovoltaics) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Dr NS Beattie
No email address given
Fac of Engineering and Environment
Northumbria University
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 March 2022
End Date 28 February 2025
Duration 36 months
Total Grant Value £986,018
Industrial Sectors Energy; Manufacturing
Region North East
Programme Manufacturing : Manufacturing
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr NS Beattie , Fac of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University (99.995%)
  Other Investigator Dr E Woolley , Sch of Mechanical and Manufacturing Eng, Loughborough University (0.001%)
Professor JR Tyrer , Sch of Mechanical and Manufacturing Eng, Loughborough University (0.001%)
Dr G Zoppi , Fac of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University (0.001%)
Dr V Barrioz , Fac of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University (0.001%)
Dr L C R Jones , Wolfson Sch of Mech, Elec & Manufac En, Loughborough University (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Ove Arup & Partners Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , Laser Optical Engineering Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , Corning SAS (0.000%)
Project Contact , Novacentrix (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract This programme, Reimagining Photovoltaics Manufacturing, is an adventurous and ambitious follow-on programme to an initial feasibility study, Photovoltaic Paint. It focuses on achieving the manufacturing research breakthroughs needed to enable a design-led approach to photovoltaics (PV) manufacturing which will result in much tighter aesthetic integration of PV with products in the built environment and automotive sectors. Ultimately, this will substantially increase the global deployment of sustainable electricity and disrupt the current model of PV manufacturing, creating significant commercial opportunities for the UK.Current PV manufacturing relies critically on economies of scale with around two-thirds of manufacturing occurring in Asia. The problem with this approach is that PV modules are now highly standardised and only near-term competitive in large-scale, solar farm applications. This limits the rate at which PV deployment can grow globally in a period when tangible carbon dioxide savings are vital. A further disadvantage is that PV manufacturing is 95% based on silicon wafer technology which is brittle and requires capital intensive facilities. In turn, this limits the opportunities for seamless product integration to niche applications which are currently not cost effective.Our central research hypothesis is that these barriers can be overcome using the manufacturing research outcomes from the initial Photovoltaic Paint programme. More specifically, in Reimagining Photovoltaics Manufacturing, we will apply new capabilities in slot-die coating and inkjet materials printing to create patterned and nature-inspired solar cells that are unlike anything available today. Furthermore, by replacing a carbon-intensive thermal processing step commonly used in the manufacturing of inorganic thin film solar cells with targeted laser annealing, we will be able to manufacture these solar cells on a wide range of useful substrates that allow aesthetic and economically viable integration of PV with products.An important feature of our design-led approach to PV manufacturing is that it inherently prioritises sustainability. More specifically, we are targeting scalable, rapid and energy efficient manufacturing processes with low wastage and non-toxic materials. We will also assess the opportunity to recover and reuse valuable components of our solar cells as part of their end-of-life decommissioning.The programme has two key routes to impact. Firstly, its design-led principles can be applied to several promising PV materials being developed by other research groups in the UK and around the world. Secondly, we will involve product designers and engineers with specific knowledge of innovation in key sectors, in our manufacturing research. This is novel and an important distinction to the current model which focuses on technology development and ultimately, the combination of these routes will create compelling new products and accelerate carbon savings worldwide.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 25/05/22