AES Semigas


22 April 2024

ZSW and First Solar partner on thin-film PV research

Germany’s ZSW (Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung — or Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research — Baden-Württemberg) and cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA have announced a strategic research partnership focused on advancing thin-film photovoltaics (PV). The partnership will focus not only on performance but also on the potential to develop and optimize all-thin-film tandem technologies on a gigawatt scale.

As a research institute with over 30 years of experience and knowledge in thin-film photovoltaics, ZSW’s main objective has been materials development and processes for technology transfer to production. This has been pursued for decades for the copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film technology developed by ZSW researchers. For more than 10 years their process development has also been advancing in the rapidly evolving field of perovskite photovoltaics, with a focus on scaling robust processes on both rigid and flexible substrates.

In 2023, First Solar acquired perovskite technology firm Evolar AB of Uppsala, Sweden. Evolar’s laboratory has since become First Solar’s European Technology Center, with about 30 of its R&D staff transitioning to First Solar, working in close collaboration with the company’s team of about 60 scientists at its advanced research technology center in Santa Clara, California, and the development teams in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Tandem solar cells can better use the solar spectrum by splitting the absorption of sunlight in a top and a bottom cell. Furthermore, as every tandem contains at least one layer of thin-film solar cell, the development of thin films is of key importance to the next generation of solar technologies.

Additionally, thin-film PV production allows for reduced supply chain challenges in parallel to optimized CO2 footprints, both of which have gained increased attention in recent years. From the material perspective, compound semiconductors are particularly suited to tandem cells as the bandgap can be tuned by composition engineering to match the spectral needs of the top and bottom cells.

Other potential areas of research include the optical adaption of the stacked cells and the specialized characterization techniques. The overall goal of the research partnership is to explore opportunities to make thin-film modules more efficient through better use of the solar spectrum.

See related items:

First Solar acquires Swedish perovskite PV firm Evolar

ZSW’s perovskite-CIGS tandem solar module reaches 21%+ efficiency

Imec/ZSW perovskite/CIGS tandem cell achieves record 24.6% efficiency

Tags: ZSW CIGS First Solar perovskite




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