This web page presents the NanoSol project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 696519.

Project Description

The NanoSol project was launched in order to validate commercial performance of SOL’s innovative production methodology for creating nanowire films and encapsulating them into film solar cells, ready for integration with traditional Si-solar cells into high performance tandem modules.

NanoSol adds a novel value-enhancing manufacturing step to the solar module production chain (production of the nanowire- based film). The project will also have a more local impact on leading European clusters developing this technology, in particular the Lund nanophotonics- cluster (QuNano/University of Lund/Glo in Sweden). The film based solar cells also provides the potential for small solar PV manufacturers to move with higher value modules, enabling further reshoring of PV manufacturing.

The project addresses EU-Wide Challenges highlighted in the Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy Societal Challenge and Work Programme (reducing raw materials use in renewable energy generation, improving energy production efficiency, promoting European cutting-edge advanced materials innovation, high-end technologies and products, and enabling on-shoring of jobs in a critical and growing manufacturing market), particularly Competitive Low-Carbon Energy (LCE). NanoSol additionally supports the aims of the Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials Societal Challenge, and the project has natural links with many topics inside the Industrial Leadership element of Horizon 2020, including the Nanotechnologies (NMP) work programme of Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEIT), and the Innovation in SMEs topic.

Sol Voltaics – sole partner

Sol Voltaics (here called SOL) is an advanced energy materials start-up based in Lund, Sweden, focusing on improving the efficiency of energy capture, generation and storage using nanotechnology. Founded in 2008 by Prof. Lars Samuelson to commercialize energy materials nanotechnology spun-out from the world-leading Lund nanotechnology research cluster, SOL has made the transition from academic research team to a driven technical development company with world-class technical and business talent. SOL is currently commercializing its first product, the patent-protected Nanowire-film-based solar cell, designed to boost conversion efficiencies in tandem with traditional solar PV modules. SOL strongly believes that innovations such as these are crucial to realize the market adoption breakthroughs necessary to allow solar energy generation to achieve its full potential to contribute to low carbon, clean energy generation.

SOL has achieved considerable successes to date, developing its novel NW-film technology and equally unique manufacturing processes from initial demonstration of Wave-Concentrated Photovoltaics (WCPV) in 2012 [Wallentin et al 2013]* to the recent formal verification of a record-breaking film based prototype NW cell with 15.3% efficiency [Åberg et al. 2015]*. SOL has also successfully engaged with leading PV module manufacturers to validate market requirements and product needs, and to prepare the ground for commercial trials and joint development. Strong support is reflected in all interaction with market actors, including letters of intent for NanoSol commercial trials received so far from major players representing 10% of the global module market. Along the way, the product offering and business model has evolved from a printable nanowire ink to a complete booster cell, giving stronger market entry, product value, and impact.SOL has been recognized with multiple business awards, including Red Herring Top 100 2014; European Venture Contest, Nordic Venture Forum, and European Venture Summit awards in 2013, and Green Solutions “Hot 50” Nordic Cleantech Companies 2014.

It has also received recognition and support via grant and other applied research assistance at the Swedish and EU level, including from the Swedish Energy Agency, “Vinnova” Innovation Agency, Nordic Innovation Fund and from the European Commission in FP7 projects “AMON-RA” and “BUONAPART-E”.

SOL is therefore well placed to take the next step in developing its film based solar cell product; with the support of the European Commission for NanoSol, SOL will be able to commercially pilot the film based solar cell in tandem solar modules, validating technical performance and confirming market acceptance, while demonstrating the radical performance boost of tandem modules and the cost-effectiveness of its unique manufacturing methods. Following these efforts, SOL is fully focused on ramping up to an industrial scale for market introduction in 2017/2018. NanoSol is a key element of this process.

*InP Record Holding 13.8% efficiency Nanowire Cell: Wallentin, J., Anttu, N., Asoli, D., Huffman, M., Åberg, I., Magnusson, M. H., … & Borgström, M.T. (2013). “InP nanowire array solar cells achieving 13.8% efficiency by exceeding the ray optics limit.” Science, 339(6123), 1057-1060.

*GaAs Record-Breaking 15.3% efficiency Nanowire Cell: I. Åberg et al. (2015) A GaAs Nanowire Array Solar Cell with 15.3% Efficiency at 1 Sun. Presented at 42nd IEEE PhotoVoltaics Specialist Conference 14th-19th June 2015, New Orleans USA.

A nanowire-based solar cell film

The NanoSol project to commercialize the film based solar cell is implemented in three phases:

Phase 1: Feasibility study, already implemented without EC funding

  • Manufactured a prototype GaAs NW cell to validate concept performance, demonstrating world record performance in external benchmarking.
  • Created advanced prototype Aerotaxy manufacturing processes and facilities.
  • Created advanced prototype film manufacturing processes and facilities.
  • Performed extensive market survey activities, verifying market interest, entry segment and pricing.
  • Secured early adopter PV device manufacturers’ support for commercial trials.

Phase 2: From prototype to commercially viable product (this project)

  • Mature and integrate all Aerotaxy processes into a pilot production plant.
  • Mature and integrate all NW film processing techniques into a pilot production plant.
  • Manufacture prototype film based solar cells ready for integration into tandem modules.
  • Benchmark solar cell film performance.
  • Integrate solar cell film with modules from trials partners, both at SOL and at partner sites.
  • Evaluate performance of the resulting tandem modules: both technical and commercial.
  • Maximize potential market adoption of the solar cell film through market awareness, communications, dissemination of results and building a user association.

Phase 3: Scale-up, commercialization and market launch including scaling from 20x20mm active module size, and reduction of costs to costing model entry level.

The commercial trials that will be performed on the film solar cells will consist in two main parts; certification and customer trials. Certification and qualification of our cells will consist of standard performance, safety, and stress tests and will be conducted by external test institutes. For more information on these processes, see for instance the TUV website. Customer trials will aim at integration of our film solar cells at customer sites on PV cells and modules for validating the technology. We are actively looking for interested PV partners.


Performance of GaAs Nanowire Array Solar Cells for Varying Incidence Angles

March 3, 2017

IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, 2016, Online
Authors: Omid Madani Ghahfarokhi, Nicklas Anttu, Lars Samuelson and Ingvar Åberg
Paper for IEEE_2016