Solar technologies and applications
Behind solar cells lies a complex technology. Within this expert group, we develop and industrialise technology for manufacturing and integration of thin-film solar cells. We work on this with international partners in research programs. One example is Solliance Solar Research, a partnership between research institutes, universities, and industrial partners.
New technology for thin-film solar cells
Switching to electric power requires large-scale deployment of solar cells. Every available surface must be utilised. New technologies make integration of solar cells into buildings and infrastructure affordable. Thin-film solar cells (see image) are cells that are built up but placed directly onto a rigid or flexible carrier using various deposition techniques. This offers freedom of design and integration, of form, dimension, and electrical design. Some of these techniques are relatively new, but have great potential.
Solar cells made of perovskite
There are solar cells based on lab-scale produced perovskite. They have conversion efficiencies comparable to traditional solar cells after only a few years of research. Also, this type of solar cell offers the possibility of making cells semi-transparent. So you can apply them in windows, coloured façades, and tandems with other cell types. We’re working to further scale up and industrialise this technology and expect the cost of production to fall well below the current price of solar panels.
Beautifully designed solar panels
We are also working on solar cells with an appearance other than black or blue, such as surface colour and texture. This makes it more attractive for housing associations, consumers, and building managers to use solar panels in façades or window glass. We test these aesthetically pleasing panels at our SolarBEAT test facility. There, the panels integrated into systems are exposed to long-term loads. This allows for a comprehensive evaluation of performance versus cost.
Improved CIGS production
Within the Module Technology group, work is being done to further optimise the production of 'CIGS'-based solar cells. CIGS is a crystal structure of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium. We have a reference research and production line for this purpose. TNO's Solar Technologies & Applications works with industry partners. We’re developing materials, processes, and new-generation roll-to-roll equipment for better and cheaper CIGS solar cells.
Broad field of expertise
We have extensive experience in the development of thin-film solar technology and the application and testing of solar panels. This ensures that we develop solutions on an industrial scale. That's why we have a broad area of expertise available to you:
- various vacuum deposition technologies, including sputtering (PVD), chemical vapour deposition (CVD), and plasma-enhanced CVD (PECVD)
- laser technology for insulating and connecting different conductive layers in thin-film solar cells
- technology behind transparent conductive layers (TCOs)
- inkjet technology for solution-based layering in a thin-film solar cell
- techno-economic modelling of new technologies
- techno-economic modelling and LCOE modelling based on real-life testing
- extensive testing facilities for long-term practical testing of solar panels
Research organisation Solliance Solar Research
Solliance Solar Research is a partnership between the Dutch TNO, Belgian imec, and ECN (Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, part of TNO since 2018). Together with industrial and academic partners, we conduct research there on the next generation of thin-film solar cells.
Tandem technology for higher PV performance
Solar cells for extreme conditions in aerospace applications
Solar technology: opportunities and challenges
New silicon solar cells
Solar energy: limits to yield extended further
Solar energy is developing at lightning speed. The increase in efficiency is, amongst others, causing a cost reduction. TNO researchers, Eindhoven University of Technology and Delft University of Technology broke two world records on next generation so-called four terminal tandem devices (stack of two solar cells / sub-cells resulting in a better utilization of the energy in the solar spectrum).