The cost of PV systems has experienced a rapid drop in price since its widespread market penetration, while efficiency has improved considerably over the same period. In Germany, in 1990, standard PV rooftop systems still cost about €14,000 per kWp, whereas in 2017 the costs had fallen by more than 90%. As its share of the market has grown, so too has the attractiveness of photovoltaics, and today ways of storing electricity are being progressively integrated into the photovoltaic system. In this field, universities and companies worldwide are currently researching new ways of increasing the efficiency of the system.
The Institute for Solar Energy Research ‒ a research facility of the University of Hanover ‒ already hit the headlines last year when a P-type silicon solar cell achieved a record efficiency of over 26%. In a new project funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Technology, the institute is now exploring new ways of raising the efficiency of the system. The main aim of the research work being undertaken is to make PV modules for small-surface areas such as vehicles and buildings even more cost-efficient, allowing for an even greater range of applications.
With innovative circuit technologies, solar cells are seamlessly connected in the modules, which means that up to 4% of space can be saved. Innovative lamination processes are intended to ensure stability and at the same time save material ‒ or lead to an increase in efficiency ‒ of 1%. The solutions are to be developed for monofacial as well as for bifacial modules. The improved quality of the film on the back of the bifacial solar cells is expected to further increase their efficiency by 0.6 %. Even if these individual advancements appear small, they nevertheless contribute, when added together, to a noticeable increase in efficiency.
The ProVe research project started in June and will run for a period of three years.