An alternative to c-Silicon PV is thin-film solar cells, which can be fabricated on various and flexible substrates (including glass, metal foils and polymers). A benefit of thin-film PV is the lower direct semiconductor materials cost. Realising lower costs in production requires high input material utilisation and low raw materials conversion costs. Largescale thin-film module production can be more cost efficient when utilising rapid processing technologies. With further advances in scientific understanding, 25% efficiency devices are within reach as are even higher efficiencies in tandem architectures. Translating those device and process advances to manufacturing technology will dramatically reduce LCOE once sufficiently scaled in both module size and production volume. This will require adapting deposition processes for higher rates and to larger-scale equipment while developing suitable robust techniques for inline process and quality control.
The proposal should address all of the following:
- Develop novel environmentally benign thin-film technology concepts that optimise PV cell and module architecture, increase durability, decrease losses (minimising also the cell-to-module efficiency gap) and target very high efficiencies (>25%) with flexibility for specific applications.
- Employ simple, scalable and low cost/low energy consumption and higher rate deposition processes.
- Ensure compliance with all relevant standards, including those related to the specific applications targeted.
- Perform device/module real–life (under actual outdoor operating conditions) characterisation for reliability and energy yield assessment.
- Perform a life cycle analysis to bring evidence of the lower environmental impact, better resource efficiency than current commercial PV technologies, and circularity potential.