The word, which for many years did not have such an active and apparent meaning, is one of the most talked about today: sustainability. But after all, what does that mean?
In practice the concept that seeks to promote the use of our environmental and planetary resources as a whole, as well as the exploration of areas without aggression to the environment. Therefore, this concept is expected to raise awareness to create a correct balance between human actions and activities with the environment, after all, one depends on the other to ensure their existence.
ARCIGS-M focus the need to implement better technologies and innovate solar panels to increase solar energy efficiency. But how do you ask? We interviewed ARCIGS-M coordinator Professor Marika Edoff, from the University of Uppsala to know how.
1. How is the progress of ARCIGS-M?
-I think we are having good progress on the different topics, all of which contributing to the understanding and development of thin film solar cells. The success of the complete ARCIGS-M technology needs all pieces put together in one single device. This is challenging and will be the focus during the rest of the project.
2. How can the devices developed under the ARCIGS-M project contribute to the development of innovative solar panels?
-ARCIGS-M includes several different work packages and tasks. One task is about substituting glass with stainless steel with an isolation layer. Here already a second promising version is available. Passivation of the back contact is the focus of another task including nano-sized patterning fit for upscaling. This is a necessary component for ultrathin solar cells, but valuable also for high-quality standard thickness devices. It also enables having transparent back contacts, which can be used in bi-facial solar cells. Reflective back contact involves both optical modellings as well as the development of the reflective structures. The integrity of the reflective layers in solar cell module prototypes is the challenge here, but high reflectivity in combination with high-quality CIGS layers will lead to high efficiencies that are the goal of ARCIGS-M.
3. What distinguishes ARCIGS-M from other similar projects, companies or institutions that develop the same solutions in the field of solar renewable energies?
-The uniqueness of ARCIGS-M is the complementarity of the partners. Each partner contributes with his/her expertise in a truly collaborative way. Samples are travelling across Europe, and results move between partners in all directions.
4. How do you see the application of the final product?
-The solar cell market is genuinely competitive. The application that we have found most suitable for the ARCIGS-M technology is building integration. Combining steel or glass with the aesthetic quality of a black monochrome appearance is what we are looking.
5. What have been the major research and development breakthroughs of the project so far?
-Up until now, the progress has been in the components, not in the full integration of the prototype. Worth mentioning is the highly reflective back contacts, the innovative power in the partners when it comes to patterning and the high-quality CIGS layers with only 500 nm thickness.
6. With the project in its mid-term, what do you think the most significant challenges have been?
-Getting all the processes timely integrated into the project. A lot of effort has been on coordination since the project involves a great deal of collaboration. At the same time, this has been the most rewarding experience, since mutual learning is what comes out of collaboration!
7. How could ARCIGS-M contribute to the democratisation of solar renewable energies?
-Photovoltaics is the present and the future! It is the most democratic way of generating electric power. Our goal is a product that is easy to integrate into buildings and can be produced at low cost and with minimum material consumption.