German Gov’t & CEOs Join Forces on Organic PV Advancement

The German Education and Research Minister, Annette Schavan, and the CEOs of BASF, BOSCH, MERCK and SCHOTT have set up a joint technology initiative that will provide Euro 360 million to advance organic photovoltaic solar cells technology. The aim of the research is to develop solar cells which are more cost effective, versatile, have a larger surface and are easier to use than traditional inorganic silicon-based components.

“This Initiative for Organic Photovoltaics is an example of how we can combine our strengths to invest in new technologies. This will allow us to successfully implement the government’s high-tech strategy,” explained Schavan.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is providing €60 million in funding for joint science and industry projects. The companies involved in the initiative will be putting €300 million into research and development.

“Optical technologies are increasingly becoming drivers for innovation in Germany. I would invite more partners, particularly small and medium-sized companies, to also take part in the Initiative for Organic Photovoltaics,”said Schavan.

The technology initiative will support the development of new and fundamentally improved solar cells based on organic and polymeric materials (plastics). Unlike traditional solar cells, organic solar cells can be as pliable, thin and transparent as film.

The advantages of organic photovoltaic materials will provide opportunities for enormous cost savings in the manufacturing process and completely new product visions:

• Transparent photovoltaics which could be applied to windows or casings,
• Photovoltaics on a roll which could be produced for application to large surfaces,
• Integrated photovoltaics through which every electronic device could have its own integrated power supply thanks to new kinds of solar cells.

In the medium-term, plastic-based solar cells with a ten percent efficiency factor and a lifespan of two to three years could be used to power mobile devices such as mobile phones and laptops.

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