Launch of European research project "HIFLEX" for new low-cost scalable Organic Photovoltaics applications

(Source: ECN ) On 1 January 2010 the European research project "HIFLEX" was launched. Over the next three years a European consortium comprising five research institutes and two industrial companies aims to jointly develop a technology for highly flexible Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) modules, which will allow the cost-effective production of large-area OPV modules with commercially viable Roll-to-Roll compatible printing and coating techniques. HIFLEX will be coordinated by Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and is supported by the European Commission as part of the FP7 Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Programme.

Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) is considered as one of the important emerging photovoltaic technologies which carry large hope for substantial cost reductions for PV in the future. The potential for cost reduction is based on the compatibility with high throughput processing (a factor of at least 10 higher than for other technologies) and the use of low cost materials. Additionally, OPV opens up the perspective of new applications in which mechanical flexibility and light weight are important add-ons to the functionality of PV systems.

The research in HIFLEX aims at developing the OPV technology to match the particular requirements of mobile and remote ICT applications, delivering the required efficiency under different light conditions, sufficient lifetime for practical use, acceptable cost structure, appropriate power-to-weight ratio and fit-to-purpose mechanical flexibility. HIFLEX intends to accelerate the exploitation of this OPV technology for a wide variety of ICT products in the mobile electronics market.

An application-driven research approach will be followed by developing large area, solution processable OPV free of Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) using scalable, reproducible and commercially viable printing and coating techniques enabling the low-cost production of highly flexible and lightweight OPV products. At the same time this approach guarantees the technological compatibility with other printed electronic ICT components and systems. The high flexibility and low costs will be addressed by the solar module design that is intended to be brought into production.

The two industrial partners are: Dr Schenk GmbH, an SME with valuable expertise in the inline process and quality control of Roll-to-Roll processed PV, Agfa-Gevaert with market-tested experience on photographic development of silver grid lines, polymeric antistatic and conductive coatings and large scale coating and printing as well as on developing innovative coating solutions. The five research organizations comprise: Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), Ris