S$11 Million Awarded to 5 Research Teams on Solar Energy Innovations Under the Clean Energy Research Programme
The Energy Innovation Programme Office (EIPO), formerly known as the Clean Energy Programme Office (CEPO) announced the award of research grants totalling about S$11 million to 5 research teams under the fifth grant call of the Clean Energy Research Programme (CERP).
This grant call was focused on two topics:
Improving Silicon Wafer-based Solar Cell Manufacturing Processes and Technologies; and Thin-film solar cells based on the Chalcopyrite Materials System
Thin-film solar cells based on the Chalcopyrite Materials System
This grant call was focused on new manufacturing processes and technologies for silicon wafer-based solar wafers, cells and modules. The world is steadily reaching grid parity because solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies are becoming more efficient, higher quality and cost-competitive. However, solar PV modules still account for about half of the total installed system cost. Through this call, Singapore aims to develop new innovations that will improve the manufacturing process and bring down module costs.
Besides mainstream silicon wafer-based technology, the global market has also seen the emergence of thin-film solar cells made from the chalcopyrite materials system, such as copper-indium-selenide (CIS) and copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS), and its variants like copper-zinc-tin-sulphide (CZTS) or copper-zinc tin selenide (CZTSe). This new technology has been regarded by some as having the potential to match or even surpass the overall performance of silicon wafer-based solar cells. However, major challenges remain in the areas of manufacturability and commercial scale-up, and technology development and improvements will be critical for this technology to achieve its potential. So the latest call is also focused on developing capabilities in this non-silicon solar field.
The 5 research proposals awarded funding in this latest call of CERP are:
Development of hybrid heterojunction silicon wafer solar cells (H2 Cells) (SERIS, National University of Singapore)
Development and industrialisation of low-cost, high-power back-contact module using high efficiency metal wrap through (MVT) solar cells (Renewable Energy Corporation, Singapore)
Integrated framing system for crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules (SERIS, National University of Singapore)
Ultrafast atomic layer deposition for cost-efficient high-efficiency silicon wafer solar cells (SERIS, National University of Singapore)
CIGS solar cells and mini-module: Establishment of an R&D pilot line in Singapore and research into cadmium-free heterojunction window layers (Nanyang Technological University)
Managing Director of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), Dr Beh Swan Gin said, “The research topics for this latest competitive funding round represent the next step forward for Singapore in solar energy research. We believe that Singapore can leverage its broad-based manufacturing strengths to catalyse new innovations in the manufacturing processes of silicon wafer-based solar cells. The additional focus on thin-film solar cells will also diversify our research capabilities, and strengthen Singapore‟s leadership position in clean energy research, innovation and commercialisation.”
“REC is excited to receive this grant under the CERP program for one of its projects to develop new cell and module technology. This new technology holds the promise of further cost reductions in combination with an increase in module power. We are grateful for the support given by EDB to our future development plans.” commented Erik Løkke-Øwre, Senior Vice-President of Operations and Technology, REC Solar and Wafer.
The CERP was launched by EIPO in 2007 to accelerate research and development efforts to help drive the growth of the Clean Energy industry in Singapore. This S$50 million initiative supports both upstream and downstream commercially-relevant R&D efforts through a competitive project funding approach. (See Annex 1 for more information on CERP and Annex 2 for a list of PEP members)
With the completion of this latest grant call, the funding for CERP is fully committed. EIPO has announced in 2011 the allocation of an additional S$195 million in R&D budget under the national Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2015 (RIE2015) cycle that ends on 31 March 2016. Of the S$195 million, S$140 million has been assigned to the new Energy Innovation Research Programme (EIRP) which has succeeded the CERP. The first grant call on solar energy under EIRP was opened on 28 May 2012.
Source: The Economic Development Board