Fraunhofer ISE joins US SunShot Initiative

Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE research institute, based in Freiburg, has been invited to participate as a research partner of the SunShot Initiative in the U.S.

Set up in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the aim of the SunShot Initiative is to reduce the electricity generation costs for solar energy in the U.S., down to as little as $0.06 a kilowatt hour, with the overall aim being to make solar power cost-competitive with conventional fossil fuels.

Having worked on increasing solar cell efficiencies for more than 30 years, Fraunhofer ISE has become one of only three non-American research departments to be granted project funds to work within the SunShot Initiative framework.

"We are delighted to be a European research partner in the second round of the SunShot Foundational Program to Advance Cell Efficiency (F-PACE)," said Fraunhofer ISE’s division director of development and characterization, Stefan Glunz. "Our participation demonstrates the high level of international recognition that our research receives."

Fraunhofer’s researchers will partner with experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the project leader of Georgia Institute of Technology to work on improving the efficiency of high-efficiency silicon solar cells. Dr. Glunz added that "the research focus will be on passivation strategies for solar cell contacts, emitter optimization, as well as improved light trapping in the solar cell."

The cooperation was welcomed by Fraunhofer ISE’s director, Professor Eicke R. Weber, who added: "Photovoltaics is a key player in the inevitable global energy transition to renewable energy sources and still holds potential for efficiency gains, which can be realized through international joint research efforts."

Through the SunShot Initiative, the DOE supports a number of research efforts from universities, national laboratories, NGOs and private companies to help drive down the cost of solar.