Australian-German innovation in PV

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While module manufacturers in Germany and Australia have closed in recent weeks, a forum has spelt out that the prospects for industry-defining research and the commercialization of technology remains strong for the two countries. The Australia – Germany Solar Future Forum was held this morning at the Australian Embassy in Berlin.

Speaking at the event, University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Martin Green explained that vast potential remains for the photovoltaic industry to reduce costs and increase cell and module efficiency. Green, who has been described as the "Godfather of Photovoltaics", for his pioneering work with c-Si technology as far back as the 1970s, spoke specifically about stack-cell technology as having the potential to vastly increase cell efficiencies. Stack-cells have the potential to increase the range of light that can be converted by the photovoltaic cell.

In terms of cost reduction developments, Green also mentioned improvements in mono-crystalline ingot quality and size as being exciting current developments. He also raised ion implantation as technology of the future to bring silicon loss to zero, in upstream c-Si processes.

To summarize, Green indicated that cost reductions and efficiency gains in photovoltaics can accelerate photovoltaic’s march towards competitiveness with traditional energy sources.

Also speaking at the event was Markus Glatthaar, from the Fraunhofer-Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. He elaborated on the benefits that collaboration between research teams can have in moving photovoltaics technology forward.

Klaus Lipps, from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin spoke from personal experience in his work in developing turbo cells, which can maximize yield from thin film photovoltaics. The turbo cell technology, called photochemical upconversion and developed by Lipps in collaboration with University of Sydney researchers, can deliver efficiency increases in the photovoltaic thin films he worked with by up to three percent. Lipps said the technology has the potential to deliver efficiency gains of up to 30 percent in the future.