The goal of the project is the reliable production of thin film solar cells with efficiencies in the range of 8%-10%, using a low technology process. If this can be achieved in a school laboratory, then the fabrication process would be viable for on or near site fabrication in the developing world.
A reliability of 90% for the process for CdS film deposition was achieved, but for CdTe films a level of only 60% was reached. However, the efficiency of the cells that were built successfully was about 10%, which is what was expected. The project also resulted in the production of fact sheets and information modules for students and teachers. The students benefited from exchanges between the different schools both at their home institutions and during exchange visits.
This project is being undertaken by thirty 16-18 year old students from four schools in Europe. Led by a team from Twyford Church of England High School in London, a significant contribution is made by the Goethe Gymnasium in Frankfurt with further support from schools in Potsdam and Prague.
It is hoped that the success of the project can be demonstrated by using the cells produced to power the Upton Swing Bridge, West of Reading, for the British Waterways Board. This bridge, which carries a road over a canal used for leisure purposes, is currently manually operated and this leads to significant malfunctions. Its remote location means the cost of installing a mains electricity supply is prohibitive. The leisure use of the canal, which peaks in summer and on sunny days, means there is a natural matching of the load with the output of a solar module.
The project will also result in co-operation between schools, industry and universities throughout the consortium. It will train students in the art of technical communication in their own and other European languages.