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Breakthrough: Thin Film Solar Cells Generate as Much Energy as Traditional Solar Cells

Scientists from Hasselt University, imec, VITO and international partners within the PERCISTAND consortium have become the first to achieve an energy efficiency of 25 percent with a thin-film solar cell. This means that this wafer-thin solar cell generates as much energy as a traditional silicon solar cell.

‘In addition, our solar cells are thin and flexible, making them ideal for integration into buildings and roofs,’ says Prof. Bart Vermang (Hasselt Unicersity/imec/EnergyVille). ‘With these thin-film solar cells, we are truly competitive with the traditional solar panel sector for the first time.’

‘We use two types of materials to achieve this record efficiency, which we lay on top of each other,’ says Prof. Vermang.  ‘A traditional solar panel consists of a single layer, usually of silicon. For these solar cells, we use two different materials that reinforce each other. Our consortium is a collaboration of what we can safely call the best thin-film solar cell research groups in the world. Some of the partners are working on the bottom cell, while others are working on the top cell.’

‘In recent weeks we’ve combined the best bottom and top cells, which is how we have already achieved this high efficiency level of 25 percent. Our ambition now is to generate an energy efficiency of 30 percent within the next three years.’

When will members of the public be able to purchase thin-film solar panels? ‘For the moment we managed to get these efficiency results in solars cells of approximately 1 cm². I imagine that the panels will be available on the market within eight years.’

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