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Período documentado: 2020-09-01 hasta 2022-02-28

CUSTOM-ART aims at developing the next generation of building and product integrated photovoltaic modules (BIPV and PIVP respectively), based on earth-abundant and fully sustainable thin film technologies. CUSTOM-ART will develop advanced BIPV and PIPV products (flexible and semi-transparent solar modules), based on earth abundant kesterite materials which are at the forefront of emerging inorganic thin film technologies. By combining advanced strategies for materials properties management, with customized modules design in a circular economy approach, two types of products will be developed including flexible PV modules (polymer and steel supports) and semi-transparent (polymer). CUSTOM-ART will bring these technologies from TRL4-5 up to TRL7, demonstrating very competitive conversion efficiencies (20% at cell and 16% at module level) and durability (over 35 years), at a reduced production cost (< 75 €/m2), contributing to ensure the full sustainability and competitiveness of the European BIPV and PIPV Industry.
The work performed since the beginning of the project and the main results achieved so far are summarised in the following points:

• Optimisation of processes for highly efficient kesterite solar cells. A good collaboration network and effective sample exchanges have been established during the first period of the project. Following the action plan, by M18, all planned activities have been started and an efficiency improvement of the kesterite monograin solar cell as well as of kesterite devices on stainless steel flexible substrate is achieved.

• Encapsulation, durability and reliability: The testing methods to quantify the performances of non-encapsulated devices have been defined and initial stability characterizations have been performed. Specifications for the reversible adhesives have been defined for each use-case (CRYS and SUN), and the development of the multi-nanolayer flexible packaging has started with the definition of the specifications, the selection of the materials for barrier film development and the setting-up of the characterization methods using initial film samples produced by compression moulding. Finally, a preliminary analysis of the mechanical ageing methods for future modules testing has been initiated.

• Modules fabrication: Main results include: 1) Successful upscaling of the monograin powder production from 100g to 250g batch with 4% PCE and 40% yield; 2) Transfer of the spray coating technology developed at IMRA on rigid substrate onto flexible substrates developed by Sunplugged, with 5x5 cm2 samples successfully showing j-V performance (with PCE up to 8%); 3) Reduction of the Ga content in the solution of solution-based front contacts developed at CRYS experimentally proved (with a cost reduction by ~ 64%); and 4) First scribing trials on steel flexible foils with multi-layer SiO2 layers.

• Cost analysis, recycling, LCA and societal acceptance: An LCA study on CIGS, CZTS and other chalcogenide thin film solar cells using GaBi LCA software has been performed. The LCA models suggest that CUSTOM-ART technologies in comparison to other assessed solar cells perform relatively well environmentally. In addition, the result of the sensitivity analysis revealed that if the efficiency of CZTS, CZTSe, CZGeSe, Sb2Se3 and Sb2S3 cells can rival CIGS, there would be an environmental benefit to their deployment over the established CIGS technology. Development of methodologies for the LCC and socio-economic analysis of the CUSTOM-ART thin film solar cells has also been initiated. A review of the state-of-the-art recycling techniques for flexible thin film kesterite panels, commercial thin film panels and commercial recycling processes of CIGS has also been conducted.

• Dissemination and communication activities: The project has already created the webpage of the project, the project logo, project templates, a promotional video, project brochures, Custom-Art newsletter first release and the social media. Custom-Art has also participated in 8 different Scientific conferences with 31 presentations (with 8 invited presentations) and in 2 events (1workshop and 1 fair), and 8 papers have been already published.

• Exploitation activities have included the identification of the Foreground, Background and KER of the project. An overall analysis of the BIPV/PIPV market (external and internal factors, industry rivalry and stokeholds) accompanied by a commercialization plan and a review of the exploitation activities have already been carried out.
The expected results of the project are structured in the following specific objectives:

• SO1: To develop and test 2 enhanced configurations of CZTS modules conceived by the perfect combination of earth-abundant materials to demonstrate the fulfilment of KPIs directly linked with the technological competitiveness of the technology: Efficiency (20%), high-stability and lifetime (>35 years; 95%); reliability and reproducibility (less than 10% variation in key parameters); recyclability (85%) by the end of the project;

• SO2: To apply a set of cost reduction strategies to achieve a highly competitive manufacturing cost target of <40 c€/Wp (polymer and steel substrate configurations). Both approaches will guarantee reducing by 20% the current manufacturing costs of competing thin-film technologies;

• SO3: To assembly and test 4 module prototypes, as a full system, in 2 Business Cases where the role of PV technologies is considered vital for the final products of the end-users: AYESA as construction and engineering firm expert in BIPV and KWS as urban furniture manufacturer expert in PIPV. This approach will allow us to demonstrate technical feasibility through an exhaustive monitoring and assessment of selected KPIs in a relevant environment;

• SO4: To introduce novel circular economy strategies to ensure a high-recycling target (≥ 85%) that guarantee the development of a sustainable PV solutions and to demonstrate its environmental, social and economic impact by the development of a full LCA and LCC;

• SO5: To boost the European PV industry through the commitment of substantial investments in manufacturing plants especially in the cell/module assembly stages. To that end, it is needed to ensure its long-lasting sustainability, minimising the dependence of non-European raw materials thanks to promotion of local earth-abundant materials.

• SO6: To update and refine the current feasibility study and business plan as a “strategic tool” to get a smooth market penetration and proper orientation of the future products and services in 2024.