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ATHLET — Result In Brief

Project ID: 19670
Funded under: FP6-SUSTDEV
Country: Germany

Another ray of hope for solar energy

An EU-funded project examined various approaches to making thin film photovoltaics technology more efficient and less costly. This will enable large-scale manufacture while considering the environment as well.
Another ray of hope for solar energy
Photovoltaic energy is produced not only from large cells often seen in open fields, but from thin films that can be installed on walls, glass and roofs. The project 'Advanced thin-film technologies for cost effective photovoltaics' (Athlet) investigated cost-effective approaches to improving thin-film photovoltaic modules.

It focused on different types of silicon (amorphous, microcrystalline and polycrystalline), as well as specific chalcopyrite compound semiconductors. The aim of Athlet was to produce photovoltaic thin film that cost EUR 0.50 /Wp. The project team analysed costs and undertook modelling of materials, processes and devices to develop the required technology to produce sustainable energy through photovoltaics.

Athlet sought to achieve improved stability, conductivity and transparency of the film as well as optimise semiconductors to create ultra-efficient solar cells. It looked at cost-efficient processes based on glass and flexible non-glass materials. To achieve its aims the project established a virtual laboratory to model solar cells, analyse associated devices and outline requirements for efficient production. The production chain would consume less energy, use less materials and yield less waste. The project even considered social benefits and risks emerging from large-scale production.

Technical areas explored include light trapping in the new high-efficiency solar cells, advances in thin film technology, optimisation of materials to achieve economies of scale and advanced applications using glass.

Another major issue that Athlet closely investigated was sustainability, including the environmental and social impact of the proposed technology. Lastly, the project studied marketability of thin film technologies to support manufacturing decisions. All these studies led to development of new photovoltaic modules that are cost efficient and environmentally friendly, accelerating exploitation and opening the door to large-scale applications.

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