Following a recent funding boost, Oxford PV – a British perovskite pioneer that spun out of Oxford University – has purchased a former solar module production site in Germany for the scale-up of industry-standard perovskite wafers.
The investment of a British solar firm into a German site is noteworthy in itself, and is a testament to the growing confidence not only in pan-European solar research and development but also perovskite technology.
The site in Brandenburg an der Havel is the former production facility of Bosch Solar, and will be equipped with a pilot-scale capacity to ramp up Oxford PV’s perovskite technology to industry-standard wafer size. On site, the manufacturing tweaks required for commercial deployment of the technology – which can drastically improve the efficiency of standard silicon cells – will be, it is hoped, perfected.
Oxford PV completed the first portion of a £8.7 million Series C funding round earlier this year, and always had it in mind to drive towards market deployment of its perovskite technology as soon as was feasible. A recruitment drive has already begun, and the company hopes to be fully operational within a few months, thus beginning work on its goal to align perovskite technology with standard silicon PV cells and hopefully revolutionize cell production and efficiencies.
"Perovskite has the potential to radically improve the efficiency of solar PV and meet the world’s energy demand in the future," said Oxford PV CEO Frank Averdung. "We are delighted to have secured the site, which will allow us to drive quickly towards market deployment."
The CEO added that the facility was identified because of its existing first-class facilities and the ready availability of a local, experienced, highly skilled workforce. The Brandenburg team will work closely alongside the existing operation in Oxford, Averdung confirmed.
The potential of perovskite has long been known, with cell efficiency increases of up to 30% certainly achievable in lab and controlled conditions. However, the inherent instability of the material has hamstrung its progress, and Oxford PV is likely to place a keen emphasis on reliability and durability at the new German facility.
In a recent interview with pv magazine, Oxford PV CTO Chris Case revealed that his team is confident that they have found ways to address the thermal stability concerns inherent in original perovskite research, hinting at a new, different material that is more durable than those previously employed.