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    3 min. left

    Solutions for building integrated photovoltaics

    Many home-owners are looking at solar technologies as a way to replace today's traditional energy sources. Unfortunately, solar cells are expensive to manufacture and are not particularly efficient in terms of energy conversion. These limitations make solar power expensive when compared to carbon-based energy sources. That may change in the near future thanks to some exciting research from Oxford Photovoltaics, a spin-out from the University of Oxford. Their primary claim to fame is a new photovoltaic manufacturing technique that may just revolutionize the industry.

    Oxford photovoltaicsExisting solar cell designs consist of liquid electrolyte dye cells which can be temperature sensitive, unstable, and highly corrosive. As such, the cells must be encapsulated for greater stability which adds to construction costs. Oxford Photovoltaics has addressed these inherent design problems by replacing the electrolytic layer with a non-corrosive, non-volatile organic polymer which greatly enhances the overall stability of the solar cell design. More importantly, the patented technology from Oxford Photovoltaics can be used to manufacture cells from low-cost materials using simple screen printing processes.

    Research on building integrated photovoltaics

    Oxford Photovoltaics' recent breakthrough technology has a virtually limitless number of possible applications. It can be incorporated into glazed building panels, eliminating the need for unsightly roof-mounted solar units. Since the organic polymer can be made into  semi-transparent photovoltaics cells, it can also be screen-printed onto window panes. Additionally, it may be possible to merge the organic polymers into interior walls for additional energy generation. Traditional roofing materials could be constructed using these organic polymers, theoretically enabling future homes to be net energy producers. Clearly, there is a lot of unexplored potential locked up in the miracle materials from Oxford Photovoltaics.

    Reduction of manufacturing costs

    Oxford Photovoltaics' new device design is already cost-competitive with existing electrolytic solar cells. With a bit more research, Oxford Photovoltaics should be able to reduce photovoltaic manufacturing costs by an additional 50% compared to the lowest-cost thin film solar modules. Oxford Photovoltaics has set some aggressive goals for the coming years as well. Oxford Photovoltaics expects to make new cells more cost-efficient than either coal or petroleum in the near future, and aim to improve solar panel longevity beyond today’s 10 year average lifespan. Expect to hear a lot more about Oxford Photovoltaics in the coming year as they continue to break barriers and perfect the most efficient and cost-effective solar cells imaginable.