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The research area ‘Photovoltaic energy conversion’ covers efficient, low-cost, sustainable and widely applicable conversion of sunlight into electricity using solar cells, modules, foils and systems. It is carried out in a joint effort with other academic partners in the Netherlands and abroad, under the umbrellas of SOLARLab (lead: AMOLF) and Solliance (lead: TNO, imec (BE) and TU/e).
Within this broad area, my ambitions are to contribute to research and development of novel (i.e. beyond today’s technologies) conversion principles and devices for ultra-high efficiency, to do inspiring and insightful teaching in the field of photovoltaic solar energy, to supervise master and PhD students working with and at TNO, to communicate about the numerous possibilities and huge potential of solar energy in the Netherlands and worldwide, and, last but not least, to create active links between academic research and TNO’s applied research and technology development, especially at low Technology Readiness Levels, in the TNO Roadmap Solar Energy.
The work in the Chair also contributes to embedding TNO’s Roadmap Solar Energy in the national en EU research programs and community, for instance in the framework of the National Research Agenda (NWA), for which I act as ‘boegbeeld’ of the Route Energy Transition, the Mission-driven Innovation Programs (MMIP’s) in support of the National Climate Agreement (Klimaatakkoord), where I chair the Program Advisory Committee for MMIP2 (Renewable Electricity Generation on Land), and the European Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan, for which I serve as co-chair of its Implementation Working Group on Photovoltaics (IWG PV).
In the second corona-dominated year 2021 my work in the frame of the (0.1 fte) chair has focused on online teaching (in the Master Course Photovoltaics), student support and supervision (with an increasing focus and energy system related topics rather than materials and devices) and further development of national research programs for, or including photovoltaic solar energy (such as the Nationale WetenschapsAgenda NWA/ National Science Agenda).
One example is a student research project between UvA and transmission grid operator TenneT on the relation between the increasing share of intermittent renewables (solar and wind) in the electricity mix and price dynamics on the Amsterdam Power Exchange APEX). This also related the emergence of technological options and corresponding business cases for storage (batteries) and conversion (green hydrogen).
Another example is the rapidly increasing importance and urgency of ‘sustainability’ in the broadest sense of the word (including carbon footprint, circularity, ecology, resource availability and societal support) and its implementation in existing and new energy research programs and instruments, for instance concerning ecological effects of floating solar energy systems and (design for) recycling of solar energy modules.
In anticipation of my retirement in 2022, professor Arthur Weeber (TNO and TU Delft) was appointed Coordinator of the Roadmap Solar Energy at TNO and has also taken over most of the related interactions with academic partners. In 2021 a new joint AMOLF-TNO PhD-project on advanced contacts for perovskite-based photovoltaic devices was started.