The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting a consortium which aims to develop innovative polymeric solar cells for energy-autonomous systems. The BMBF recently announced supporting a future-oriented development project by a consortium of renowned companies and scientific institutions by providing funding of nearly EUR 2 mln annually over the next four years.
Germany's Merck KGaA is heading the consortium of industrial partners SCHOTT Solar AG (Mainz), Konarka Technologies (Nuremberg), VARTA Microbattery GmbH (Ellwangen) and institutes at the Universities of Ilmenau, Karlsruhe and Oldenburg, as well as the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (Stuttgart). The consortium was established to develop flexible organic solar cells/modules. The project aims to achieve increase in the efficiency of these components to at least 10% as compared to known approaches to organic solar cells. A further aim is to demonstrate the production of these highly efficient polymeric solar cells using a cost-effective printing process and represent a genuine alternative to existing inorganic solar cells/modules. Konarka develops and manufactures solar plastic films that convert light to energy - anywhere and develops polymer-based, organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology that provides a source of renewable power in a variety of form factors.
According to plans, initial commercially exploitable results will be available starting in 2012. Potential applications for flexible solar cells will include external powering of portable equipment and lighting, right up to functionalized textiles and integrated power supplies for portable buildings.