The vision to use Photovoltaics (PV) as a decentralized and sustainable source of energy in their products is shared by thousands of designers, architects and manufacturers world-wide. In principle PV can be integrated directly in products, such as devices, vehicles and buildings.
Nowadays the development of photovoltaic modules is still primarily driven by the idea of economies of scales which leads to unvaried PV modules that are only good for large- area installations. These photovoltaic modules are not suitable for the integration into building skins, roof tiles or electric devices because of their rigidness and their electrical constraints. Even companies which could provide a solution for these applications (flexible thin-film PV firms) are not providing customized PV modules because of the associated set-up times.
The project addresses these obstacles by the development of novel solar cell materials, manufacturing processes and supportive actions to improve communication in the design value chain.
One key technology is a novel monolithic interconnection process for thin- film solar cells that simplify the production of thin-film modules and allows adjusting the essential properties of a PV module “on-the-fly” without excessive set-up times.
It allows adjusting the electrical properties of a given PV module on the fly as well as the production of fully customized photovoltaic modules in respect to size, shape and patterns. Combined with an optimized solar cell performance, the pliability given by the flexible substrate and the encapsulation these novel PV modules provide the necessary variability and performance ability for design-driven solar solutions. Based on the innovative thin film solar cell technology, the scientific basis for optimized designs of photovoltaic cells and modules will be made for different application fields and associated necessary adaptations of involved materials and process parameters will be explored.
The novel PV material will be demonstrated in design driven prototypes ranging from solar charged mobile devices, solar lighting, Building Integrated PV to full integration in smart textiles.