Heliatek breaks efficiency record for 40% transparent organic cells

25. March 2014 | Research & Development, Markets & Trends, Global PV markets | By:  Ian Clover

The organic solar film producers have achieved a new record in efficiency for 40% transparent solar cells, achieving 7.2% in recent lab tests.

Heliatek's OPV cell.

Heliatek's new efficiency for transparent organic cells could have positive ramifications for BIPV and the car industry.

Germany's Heliatek GmbH has this week announced a new world record in transparent organic solar cell efficiency, achieving 7.2% efficiency on solar cells with a 40% light transparency.

The organic solar film company – which already holds the world record for non-transparent organic solar cells at 12% efficiency – has been working on a higher conversion for transparent cells for some time, and believes this latest breakthrough could help transform the building integrated PV (BIPV) industry.

"The transparency of our products is at the core of our market approach," said Heliatek CEO Thibauld Le Seguillon. "Our HeliaFilm is customized to meet our partners’ specific needs. We are a component supplier and this component is a film that can combine transparency and energy generation. This unique combination widens our market potential."

The company's patented HeliaFilm can be applied to tinted glass and has been pitched at the car roof industry as a way to generate solar electricity and enable car manufacturers to meet ever more-stringent eco-innovation credentials and lower C02 emissions. For the BIPV industry, near-transparent glass panels and windows that have the HeliaFilm applied will also be able to discreetly generate solar PV power when integrated into any building façade.

Although lower than the 12% efficiency generated in opaque cells, the 7.2% achieved is a world record. Partial transparency allows the usage of just 60% of the light for energy harvesting, so for 40% transparent cells this breakthrough represents quite a leap forward for the technology.

Testing was carried out under standard test conditions using a white background, and Heliatek say that the balance between light diffusion and electricity generated can be adjusted, which adds further possibilities for the product’s future use.

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James Wimberley

Tuesday, 25.03.2014 23:09

According to their website, Heliatek are working on tandem cells = perhaps a transparent organic layer on top of a conventional silicon cell, but they are not saying.
It won't be long before one of the teams addressing tandem cells announces a working prototype at 30% efficiency. That could bring about a step change in the efficiency of mass-market cells.
The rule of this game is that you mustn't use exotic materials or complicated nanoengineering, and the prospective manufacturing cost has to be in the range of current silicon and thin-film per watt - not per unit area. Smaller cells lower BOS costs, so cost parity per watt would be enough to secure adoption.

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