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The research, development and demonstration activities planned for the ERG project focus on the solar energy supply chain, starting form solar cells and proceeding along with innovative energy extraction (harvesting) techniques, high efficiency power conversion and finally managing the energy distribution inside a smart grid, with the target of different classes of applications, from house to small area, as well as application specific “local grid” (healthcare, automotive, etc).
By considering the full solar energy supply chain, we expect to produce relevant improvements of the industrial state-of-the-art in the efficiency of solar cells, in the optimization of energy generated by photovoltaic systems, in the loss reduction of power converters and, finally, in energy management strategy.
At the initial chain-link of the energy value chain, the project aims to design and develop a set of innovative solar cells. In particular we primarily target the development of ultra-thin (20 micron) Si wafer PV cells, Si hetero-junction cells (tandem/multi-junction and hetero-junction contacts), novel architectures (e.g., back-contact), novel materials (for Si hetero-junctions, ARC, and passivation dielectrics), novel approaches for screen printing and laser processing, with focus to the case of back-contact cells. As a promising low-cost alternative to Si, ERG will pursue the goal of totally printable dye-sensitized-solar-cells (DSSC). This will include (a) printable electrolyte (to replace liquid electrolyte), (b) advanced TiO2 electrode, and (c) counter electrode (to meet high performance DSSC applications). The overall objective is to demonstrate DSSC products for commercial applications.
The next downward chain-link addressed by the project deals with optimization of the energy generated by photovoltaic systems by focusing on power management electronics for silicon cell panels and on micro electromechanical systems for Concentrated Photovoltaic cells (CPV).
The complete supply chains will be considered for optimum energy exploitation by Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and power conversion on module / segment levels for PV and also CPV solar generators. The architecture study will elaborate different profiles of end-users, including direct grid connection, energy storage option and E-mobility support.
As the final chain-link is concerned, the project will develop behavioural models for the individual components of the “Smart Grid”. This allows the development of optimal energy dispatching and battery charging algorithms. These algorithms will obtain their input from sensors distributed over the network, with typically, but not exclusive, a wireless communication infrastructure.
A full set of demonstrators, including innovative PV cells, novel conversion systems for PV and CPV inverters, and network demonstrators based on a household application and an industrial application will complete the project deliverables.