PVSAT-13 Bangor

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PVSAT-12 Conference Report

Article by Nigel Mason, PV Consulting Ltd

Liverpool did us proud! For some years now, PVSAT has claimed to be the UK’s premier scientific conference on solar PV and I feel we have again justified this claim on the occasion of PVSAT-12, our 12th annual event. As initiated at last year’s event in Leeds, we again held a Postdoctoral Training Workshop on the day preceding the conference so that student delegates could attend both events and keep costs down. This year for the first time PVSAT hosted a small workshop for the EU-funded project Steel PV to disseminate its work exploring the fabrication of PV cells on steel sheet for building integrated applications.

First the stats. This year 110 delegates listened to 8 presentations by invited international guest speakers, 32 contributory speakers and 37 poster presentations. Perovskite PV cells narrowly beat CdTe with 12 papers having the former in their title compared to 11 for the latter. Presentations on other PV semiconductor materials included CZTS (5 papers), CIGS (4), OPV (4), quantum dots (3), dye-sensitised (2), c-Si (2) and others (8).

Amongst many scientific highlights at the conference were a presentation by Prof Jan Schmidt (ISFH, Germany) on the potential of novel heterojunction solar cells including the possibility of 37% efficient tandem cells of perovskite on silicon. Intermediate band-gap solar cells with efficiency of 19.7% were reported by Peter Carrington (Lancaster) and single-walled carbon nanotube/PbS quantum dot cells with 6.5% efficiency reported by Yujiro Tazawa (Oxford).

Other keynote presentations included; PV integration into low-voltage distribution networks (Keith Sunderland, DIT Ireland), a new energy yield performance standard for PV modules (Markus Schweiger, TŰV, Germany), thin film PV for building integration (Yulia Galagan, TNO Host, The Netherlands) and life cycle assessment of PV (Mariska de Wild-Scholten, SmartGreenScans, The Netherlands). Two excellent presentations were given in the field of CdTe thin film cells by Prof Ken Durose (Liverpool) and Dr Wyatt Metzger (NREL, USA) who covered historic and current challenges with this technology.

Dan Lamb (Glyndŵr University) reported progress on a project to evaluate CdTe thin film cells in space satellites. Space cells are typically multi-junction devices based on III/V semiconductors but CdTe thin film PV offers exceptional high performance-to-weight ratio demanded for space application. The first flight test of these “made in Wales” cells is due for launch on 29 July 2016. We wish them a successful mission.

Whilst PVSAT has a predominantly science outlook, it is always helpful to view this in a commercial context and Dr Finlay Colville (Solar Media) gave an invited talk on market perspectives and insight into the challenge of the barrier-to-entry of new non-silicon PV cells in a market dominated by crystalline silicon technology.

The conference dinner was held in The Athenaeum, founded in 1797 to provide a meeting place where ideas and information could be exchanged. Today it is located in an elegant building erected in 1928 in the centre of Liverpool. Here we were entertained by live music performed by Liverpool Jazz and an amusing talk of his experiences with electric cars and the promotion of renewable energy by Robert Llewellyn (aka Kryten in Red Dwarf and host of Scrapheap Challenge).

Conference exhibitors included IET Journals, Newport, Kurt J Lesker and LOT Quantum Design.

PVSAT-12 is, as always, very grateful to our sponsors for supporting the event and helping to keep the student fee for conference attendance to a minimum. This year’s sponsors included; IET Journals, Royal Society of Chemistry: Energy Sector Group, Supergen SuperSolar, SHARP, University of Liverpool, Steel PV and The Institute of Physics: Materials & Characterisation Group.

PVSAT-13 will be held at The University of Bangor, N Wales, 5-7 April 2017. www.pvsat.org.uk

Nigel B Mason, Conference Chair

Date: April 25, 2016, 9:02 a.m.