Illuminating alliance

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BASF and Bosch are working together in the innovative field of organic photovoltaics (OPV).

At an event held in the Neue Börse, the Frankfurt stock exchange’s head office, the government and its partners from industry pledged to invest in research to promote the new technology. It aims to make the manufacture of solar cells more cost-effective and at the same time increase the number of areas of application.

Last year, photovoltaic modules had a global market volume of €8bn. The segment is expected to grow by more than 20 percent annually until 2020.

BASF and Bosch are founding members of the technology initiative of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) which will provide €60m for research to develop this highly attractive market, while the initiative’s current industry partners – which include Merck and Schott – plan to spend up to €300m.

‘The initiative to promote organic photovoltaics is an example of how we combine our strengths to invest in new technologies. Our high-tech strategy is aimed at strengthening Germany’s role as a business location’, said Dr Annette Schavan, Federal Minister for Research, at the launch of the new initiative.

Organic photovoltaics is the term used to describe solar cells based on organic semi-conductive materials that can generate electricity from light. This means that in the future they could replace the silicon that is used today.

The aim is to use new materials, production processes and installation technologies to make the organic solar cells more efficient and cost effective in the long term. The new technology will thus pave the way for sustainable energy production and make solar power more competitive.

Organic solar cells are flexible, light and colour tuneable, which enables them, for example, to be used in foldable cell phone chargers, or on car roofs.

Their main area of application is expected to be in the construction industry from 2015 onwards, where the cells will be used in the form of a thin layer of plastic on roofs, windows or facades.