Solar energy research

Two research projects focussed on photovoltaics, launched by the UK and Indian governments, are set to tackle some of the main challenges in developing cost-effective, efficient and stable solar energy systems.

Funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Government of India (GOI) Department of Science and Technology (DST), each organisation has committed up to £5m over a three-year period.

The first project will focus on the development of materials, device structures, materials processing and photovoltaic-panel engineering of excitonic solar cells, a class of non-conventional solar cells based on organic and nanostructured materials. It will build on existing research in both the UK and India to develop cheaper and scalable solar-cell manufacturing techniques. The project has been awarded £2.5m by RCUK, which is matched by DST.

The second project aims to remove known bottlenecks in materials supply and develop novel device designs that are significantly cheaper and more efficient than current solar cells. The RCUK grant value is £2.4m, which is equalled by DST.

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory in India and Loughborough University in the UK will spearhead the first of the projects, while researchers at IIT in Bombay and Loughborough will lead the second.

The projects form part of the RCUK Energy Programme led by EPSRC and the Solar Energy Research Initiative of the DST (GOI), and are in line with an ongoing goal of strengthening collaboration between UK and Indian research institutions.