Financial daily newspaper Børsen reports that a research group at Risø DTU National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy which has been developing a solar cell made of plastic, is now in a position to produce the material in rolls, rather like plastic film. The material has an interesting potential because it is relatively cheap to produce, but more technological development is needed to improve its energy conversion efficiency and operational lifetime – so Risø DTU is actively looking for business partners.
When Risø DTU manufactures the first large-scale solar panels made of the plastic, expectations are that the module will have an energy conversion efficiency of around 1%, which is 12 to 20 times poorer than that achieved by current silicon-based solar panels. But Risø DTU says that this just illustrates the scale of the development opportunities.
Their first aim is to find suitable application areas for the current material, such as replacing batteries in smaller-scale devices such as toys and kitchen equipment. As their material and production technology improves, the Risø DTU group foresees moving into application areas with progressively larger energy demands, until they reach levels of output and efficiency to make full-scale solar panel arrays.
But to take the next step with their material, Risø DTU needs business partners that can see the application opportunities for the current material. Business development scientist Torben Damgaard Nielsen told Børsen: "We reckon that it will require an investment of DKK 150-200m (USD 27-36m) to set up a production facility. This is a necessary step in order to drive the technology forward."
Nielsen adds that since other international research groups are also busy in this area, Risø DTU is pressed for time and needs to find a partner in the next 12 months.