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DSM joins the Solliance CIGS research program for high performance solar modules

Urmond, NL, 05 Jun 2014 13:30 CEST

Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, today announced that it joins the Solliance CIGS Research program. It has entered into a 3-year agreement to participate in this alliance that focuses on developing new solutions for solar modules. DSM is already developing proprietary innovative materials for the solar industry to increase module efficiencies to lower the cost of the energy produced, allowing for a further penetration of solar energy.
Solliance & DSM team pose with Nuna solar powered vehicle

Solliance is an alliance of TNO, TU/e, Holst Centre, ECN, imec and Forschungszentrum Jülich for research and development in the field of thin film photovoltaic solar energy (PV) in the ELAT-region (Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen triangle).

Solliance focusses on fundamental research in materials science at universities and research institutes, the development of high-throughput production technology, design of high-precision production equipment, and testing and monitoring of devices and systems. The key aim is to improve the efficiency of these energy capturing technologies and demonstrate their manufacture at (semi) industrial scale. At the same time it emphasizes sustainable production technologies and the use of sustainable materials.

Solliance’s research in the field of CIGS (copper-indium/gallium-diselenide/sulfide) ranges from fundamentals of materials composition to details of production technologies. In the lab, research has reached a yield of about 20% efficiency, but in mass production, this figure is still elusive. As a substrate, all types of materials, both flexible (like metals and plastics) and non-flexible (like glass) are being investigated. Solliance aims to achieve major results in development of sophisticated materials and deposition methods with better reproducibility and uniformity, lower process temperatures, roll-to-roll production, development of non-vacuum processing, scaling up and fully printed cells, and process control and standardization.

DSM will contribute its expertise in the field of Textured Surfaces (Light Trapping technology) through its Emerging Business Area DSM Advanced Surfaces. By applying DSM’s proprietary Light Trapping foils, it is expected that the efficiency of CIGS modules can be increased while simplifying the construction of the CIGS modules and reducing the thickness of the active layer. This will increase the output and reduce the cost of the modules and therefore the cost of the energy produced.

Oscar Goddijn, VP of DSM Advanced Surfaces says: “This collaboration is a great example of our strategy for Open Innovation, bringing together the best technologies from both industry and academics to create new record breaking technologies in the solar energy field”.

Hein Willems, Director of Solliance says: “We are extremely pleased to welcome DSM as our latest partner. Their products and expertise in Materials Sciences will form a great contribution to our aim to create the world’s most cost efficient CIGS module”.

DSM Advanced Surfaces is one of the three Emerging Business Areas of the DSM Innovation Center. These EBA’s are the growth engines for new business as part of the ’DSM in motion’: driving focused growth strategy. DSM’s science-driven innovations help protect and improve the environment by improving energy and resource efficiency and by pioneering the development of alternative and renewable chemicals, materials and energy.

The unit’s flagship product is KhepriCoat® anti-reflective glass coating, an IP protected product, developed by the DSM Innovation Center. The coating is primarily targeted at solar applications. The coating – a thin layer with a thickness of approximately 100 – 150 nm – is applied to the cover glass of solar modules and strongly reduces the reflection of sun-light. The result is an increase in the energy output of these modules up to 4%.

The new Textured Surfaces technology utilizes plastic foils with a smart 3D structure, consisting of so called “corner cubes”. These are tiny cubes pointing upwards. The cubes allow the light to enter the solar module, yet prevent the light from reflecting out of it. Effectively the light is trapped inside the module, with a result that it produces more energy. Depending on the type, location and age of the module, the additional energy can go up approximately 6 to 12%. Light is also trapped effectively at low incident angles, which increases performance in morning and evening hours as well as under cloudy sky conditions.