Solar, Utility Integration

AFRL Increases Funding of Ascent Solar’s High Efficiency Cell

Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. announced last week that the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has contracted to increase funding of Ascent Solar’s development of high-performance thin film tandem photovoltaics (PV) based on their flexible monolithically integrated CIGS technology.

The contract modification represents up to $749,000 of additional contract value over a 27-month period.

Since 1995, AFRL has provided funding for the development of the flexible CIGS at ITN Energy Systems, Inc. and now at Ascent Solar, including the development of aspects of future tandem devices.

Tandem solar cells are two solar cells in a stack, where the top cell collects the blue portion of the solar spectrum and the bottom cell collects the rest of the visible spectrum. It is believed that the type of technology pursued by this AFRL program has the potential to reach an efficiency of 20% in the future.

Ascent Solar Chief Technical Officer Dr. Joseph Armstrong stated, “While our baseline CIGS that utilizes a single junction to convert the sun’s energy has been performing very well, we are always striving to increase cell performance that can potentially lead to further reductions in system-level costs to the end user. Efficient conversion of the sun’s energy is very critical to space and near-space applications, as higher efficiencies correlate directly to smaller, lighter-weight solar arrays, and significantly lower launch cost. Likewise, in terrestrial and building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) applications, such as roofing tiles and building facades that operate at elevated temperatures, future tandem devices can provide a significant advantage over existing thin film by delivering more power in less area.”