Investing to prepare for the future

IPVF’s research programme embraces collaborative projects which are designed to enhance performances, reduce costs and improve photovoltaic module lifespan. The aim is, firstly, to improve currently-existing module production processes but also and, above all, to develop breakthrough technologies.

The programme addresses the various concept development phases from developing competencies and new concepts, through to prototyping them, via demonstrating their feasibility, assessing their economic value and seeking out players to industrialize them.

The research & development programme

Developing tandem panels which will deliver extremely high efficiencies

Tandem technologies, which consist in associating two cells made from different yet complementary materials could theoretically deliver efficiency of over 42%, whereas current predominant technology is limited to 29%. Several materials are candidates for creating these tandem cells (silicon, perovskites, III-V, CIGS, CdTe). The aim is to validate this concept’s technical-economic feasibility, to identify the most appropriate materials and to develop processes for producing this concept which could be the future of the photovoltaic industry.

Testing the potential of perovskite materials

One of the projects focuses specifically on the highly-promising emerging field of perovskites and aims to assess perovskite relevance as the top cell in a tandem system.
The aim is to create industrial-scale transparent minimodules by 2020. The challenges involve the concomitant increase of efficiencies, of solar system size and of their stability. The latter is their main weak point, potentially limiting the industrialization of perovskite-based cells. IPVF has acquired equipment for depositing the various layers comprised in the stack of a perovskite-based cell over an extensive area as well as for producing minimodules.

Pushing the silicon chain to its theoretical limits

The crystalline silicon chain is the main driving force of industrial photovoltaic development today (95% of the market) and of its competitiveness. IPVF works on the quality of interfaces in these cells by focusing on new thin-layer passivation materials and new processes. This also involves tailoring the silicon cells so that they may potentially be used as bottom cell in tandem cells.

Developing flexible, light panels

IPVF develops thin-layer solar cells using CIGS, with worldwide cutting-edge results for the development of high-efficiency photovoltaic modules using an ultralight, flexible mount created through its research projects. CIGS could also be a candidate for tandem cells; a specific projet has been initiated to study this opportunity.

Moving towards breakthrough concepts

IPVF explores new breakthrough approaches as regards the substantive work on photonics and optoelectronics which are precursors for photovoltaics of the far future and for which the Institute is a world leader.

Understanding and anticipating

Advances in photovoltaic technologies cannot exist without sound understanding of cell function to be able to identify the fundamental root of efficiency loss and of physical-chemical degradation phenomena and be able to correct them. IPVF and its teams develop new methods for studying electrical, optical and physical-chemical properties using luminescence, microscopy and spectroscopy. Modelling is also used in IPVF’s research work. This consists in digitally representing the physical behavioural patterns of photovoltaic panels to better understand how they work and to test improvements prior to rolling them out on a live-scale basis.

Developing in line with the market

Object-oriented research like IPVF’s research must be conducted in line with the market of objects it develops and its evolution by the time they are commercialized. To this end, IPVF establishes forward vision of the photovoltaic market at different stages in time so as to better target its research programme. This work led IPVF to publish its 30/30/30 initiative for the COP 21 which proposed to initiate an international research programme to develop and launch on the market a module delivering more than 30% efficiency at a cost of less than 30c$/Wp by 2030. These figures are currently being reviewed to take recent market developments into account.

IPVF Partners