Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, Germany has laid the cornerstone of its new Center for High-Efficiency Solar Cells, which is financed by a total of €32.6m from the federal government and the state government of Baden-Württemberg. Construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.
Over the past 15 years, the photovoltaics market has grown by more than 30% per year, with the costs of PV modules declining by more than 80% over the same period. Yet the potential for photovoltaics is far from exhausted, says Fraunhofer ISE. Research and industry are working hard to further improve efficiency and reduce the costs of solar cells while also addressing aspects of sustainable production.
Fraunhofer ISE recently set several records for solar cell efficiencies: 22.3% for multicrystalline silicon solar cells; 25.8% for a monocrystalline cell based on TOPCon technology, and (exceeding the limits of silicon as a material) 31.3% efficiency for a tandem solar cell comprising a III-V multi-junction solar cell on a silicon cell. With its III-V multi-junction concentrator solar cell, the institute also achieved the overall record for photovoltaic efficiency at 46.1%.
Building on this foundation, the new Center for High-Efficiency Solar Cells will replace the outdated cleanroom for solar cell development with infrastructure equipped for the next generation of solar cells. “In designing the new cleanroom facilities, we were able to adjust the infrastructure to meet the latest technological challenges,” says director Dr Andreas Bett. “We are grateful to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg for financing the new laboratory building,” he adds.
“When it comes to the cost-effective realization of the energy transition, our energy system analyses make clear that photovoltaics and wind energy will be the pillars of our future energy supply,” says professor Hans-Martin Henning, the other director under Fraunhofer ISE’s new joint leadership system.
Fraunhofer ISE is making a “major contribution to the affordability and success of the energy transition,” comments Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Labor and Housing Dr Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut. “The new Center for High-Efficiency Solar Cells is an important element in maintaining this position.”