Solar technologies and applications

Renewable electricity

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.

A look behind the scenes at our Solar Technologies & Applications expert group

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.

Thin-film solar cell

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.

Get inspired

5 resultaten, getoond 1 t/m 5

Dutch-German consortium develops simplified tandem solar modules for European market

14 March 2023

In cooperation with Dutch and German industrial partners, TNO is advancing a tandem solar module suitable for early market introduction. This application can reach higher efficiencies than those achieved by current silicon-based solar modules, which results in more power per square meter and lower cost per kWh.

Angèle Reinders new director Solliance

1 February 2023

Angèle Reinders, professor at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), has been appointed Solliance's new director. Reinders will lead the new broad focus of the Dutch/Flemish/German solar energy partnership.

Four terminal perovskite-silicon PV tandem devices hit 30% efficiency

26 September 2022

TNO, TU Eindhoven, imec and TU Delft, partners in Solliance, joined forces to further push the conversion efficiency of tandem solar cells to beyond the limits of today’s commercial photovoltaic (PV) modules.

Launch of study on new flexible solar energy systems for offshore application

29 November 2021
TNO launches research into new flexible solar energy systems on water. For the pilot, solar panels have been installed in the Oostvoornse Meer.

Research into effects of wind turbine shade on solar parks

9 February 2021
Together with project partners and solar energy producers, TNO has started a research project into the effects of shade on the energy yield of solar parks.