French government pledges EUR 18.5 million for solar research institute

The French government has poured an encouragingly sizable amount of funds into the country’s solar research and development industry, announcing this week that the French National Research Agency (ANR) has agreed to a six-year, €18.5 million financing deal for the Institut Photovoltaïque d’Ile-de-France (IPVF) – a project that aims to become a leading solar technology initiative.

IPVF is a joint initiative between oil company Total, energy giant EDF, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and Ecole polytechnique engineering school. It is operated by ANR on behalf of France’s agency for investment policy, with its main aim being to help French cities meet future renewable energy targets.

"The institute aims to make France a global leader in solar energy and to shape the future landspace of PV," said Jean-François Minster, senior Vp of scientific development at Total. "We must support the energy transition by speeding up the development of affordable, efficient solutions."

The IPVF will focus on a range of research activities designed to assist the creation and development of new concepts, improve existing technologies and widen the understanding of solar power’s environmental benefits. The R&D sector will focus on five specific scientific programs:

· Materials for high-efficiency silicon cells

· High-efficiency, thin-film solar cells made using chalcogenide materials

· New concepts for a competitive PV industry

· A multidisciplinary program on advanced characterization techniques, theory and modeling

· A program dedicated to environmental impact studies

The total budget for the IPVF stands at €150 million, with construction scheduled to begin in early 2014. The institute will be located on the Paris-Saclay campus – a higher education research institute – and expects to be home to nearly 200 solar researchers and scientists by 2016.