BP Solar Helps Fund Photovoltaic Research

The University of Delaware and Delaware State University announced that BP, the global energy company, and the BP Foundation, have awarded them US$3.75 million in renewable energy research and products. The research will focus on developing higher efficiency solar cells at lower costs and a range of research on hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Newark, Delaware – May 18, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The partnership with the University of Delaware includes a BP Solar donation of equipment valued at $1.5 million and a $1.35 million grant to the Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) in support of its solar energy research program. With the grant, BP Solar and the University commemorate working together on a variety of renewable energy projects spanning 20 years. In support of the Clean Energy Center and the seminal work currently under way in the state on hydrogen fuel cell technology, BP and the BP Foundation have awarded research grants totaling $900,000 over three years to the University of Delaware and Delaware State University. The University of Delaware will conduct research on hydrogen policy initiatives and fuel cell catalysts, while Delaware State University will undertake research on hydrogen storage materials. “In solar, we will be looking at an entirely new way of making high-efficiency solar cells that we can integrate into our existing product lines,” said Anne Quinn, BP executive vice president of Gas, Power and Renewables. In terms of hydrogen, BP hopes to move along Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s vision of a Clean Energy Center. “I have made it one of my goals to make Delaware a center of fuel cell and other clean energy research, knowing that it is an industry poised for tremendous demand and growth in the coming years,” Minner said. “This investment by BP complements the investments of state funds that I have proposed in fuel cells and moves Delaware closer to the forefront of this vital research.” UD President David P. Roselle said the University and BP are working together to deliver a substantial increase in the global share of renewable energy sources in our world. “The relationship between BP and UD has been a good and strong one, and we feel confident about the possibilities for the new program supported by BP, which couples the thin-film technology base of our Institute of Energy Conversion with improving BP’s current commercial crystalline silicon modules,” Roselle said. Andrew Goudy, professor and chair of the chemistry department at Delaware State University, has been involved in such energy-related research for more than 25 years. He said the DSU research would investigate a hydrogen storage alternative that could hold more of the gas than the traditional materials currently in use. “Our research will explore how certain complex hydrides known as alanates could be used for lightweight hydrogen storage,” Goudy said. “Over the next three years, we will research the efficiency of this new prospect, which could result in cleaner and less expensive fuel alternatives.” Robert Birkmire, director of UD’s Institute of Energy Conversion, said the solar project is aimed at improving the efficiency of solar cells by merging designs. “IEC has been a world leader in thin-film solar cells for almost 33 years so we are bringing the thin-film technology and coupling that with BP’s crystalline silicon technology to produce better-performing solar cells,” Birkmire said. “The research program is a strong one primarily because we’re looking at taking best-in-class technology and going beyond it,” he said. “Secondly, within 12-18 months, we expect to see some milestones that we can begin integrating into our manufacturing process. And lastly, the research also should show us how to reduce processing steps, while using lower temperatures to do so. All of this adds up to higher efficiency cells and lower costs, and that’s a winning combination.”

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