27 April 2021
Fraunhofer ISE inaugurates Center for High Efficiency Solar Cells
In a virtual ceremony on 27 April, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE of Freiburg, Germany has officially inaugurated its new Center for High Efficiency Solar Cells, which has been funded in equal parts by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the State of Baden-Württemberg.
“In Baden-Württemberg, we have set ourselves numerous goals for climate policy, and solar energy plays a central role,” noted Minister President Winfried Kretschmann in his welcoming address. “With Fraunhofer ISE, we have had one of the most important solar research institutes worldwide right here in the State of Baden-Württemberg for over 40 years. I am therefore very pleased that we are again able to give cutting-edge photovoltaic research a powerful boost with the Center for High Efficiency Solar Cells.”
Picture: Fraunhofer ISE’s new Center for High Efficiency Solar Cells. (© Fraunhofer ISE/photo: Guido Kirsch).
With an infrastructure composed of 1000m2 of laboratory space and cleanroom equipment, in addition to the further development of silicon and III-V technology, the research focus at the Center for High Efficiency Solar Cells lies in the suitable combination of these two materials to make highly efficient tandem cells, which are reckoned to be among the most promising photovoltaic technologies for the future.
“The new laboratory building will enable us to continue developing new groundbreaking solar cell types and thus contribute to the competitiveness of the German and European photovoltaic industry, which is again on the rise with innovative processes and technologies,” says Institute director professor Andreas Bett.
In recent decades, photovoltaics has undergone rapid technological development, experiencing a cost reduction of more than 90% and an increase in module efficiency, reaching 20% today. However, the potential of this technology is far from exhausted. Solar researchers in Freiburg are working to further increase the efficiency using the tandem approach. In tandem solar cells, several semiconductor materials with different absorption properties are stacked on top of each other in order to use the solar spectrum even more efficiently for energy generation. Tandem photovoltaics enables higher energy yield per unit area and thus potential savings in solar cell and module materials, making photovoltaics even more sustainable.
Fraunhofer ISE is the largest solar research institute in Europe, with more than 1200 staff, almost half of whom perform research in photovoltaics. The other half are dedicated to research themes involving energy systems and technologies relevant to the energy transition.
The institute holds numerous efficiency records in photovoltaics for various solar cell technologies: Most recently (in April) these include record efficiencies for both-sides-contacted silicon solar cells (26.0%) and for tandem cells on silicon (35.9%). Also, records have been achieved for a four-junction solar cell under concentrated sunlight (46%, based on a III-V multi-junction cell architecture).
“In addition to the efficiency records, we at Fraunhofer ISE are particularly proud of our developments in PV production technology,” says Stefan Glunz, Photovoltaic Research division director and professor in the University of Freiburg’s Faculty of Engineering. “These research developments have provided important impulses to industrial solar cell production, such as the use of lasers or the TOPCon technology,” he adds. “With our new laboratory building, the new cleanroom and its cutting-edge infrastructure, we are now even better equipped to continue this success story.”