chemicals group BASF and automotive ancillaries and engineering group Bosch have
decided to cooperate in the innovative field of organic photovoltaics. Along with
pharma company Merck and glassmaker Schott, they have become founding members
of a technology initiative of Germany''s federal ministry of education and research
(BMBF), which will invest in research to expand the applications of solar cell
manufacture and reduce their costs.
2006, around €8 billion of photovoltaic modules were sold worldwide. The
segment is expected to grow by more than 20 per cent annually until 2020. The
ministry will provide €60 million for research to develop this market, and
the industry up to €300 million.
initiative to promote organic photovoltaics is an example of how we combine our
strengths to invest in new technologies," said Dr. Annette Schavan, German
federal minister for research, at the launch of the new initiative.
term ''organic photovoltaics'' describes solar cells based on organic semi-conductive
materials that can generate electricity from light, which, some scientists hope,
will replace silicon, 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.
to the promoters of the initiative, organic solar cells are flexible and as thin
as a sheet protector. They are both light and colour tunable, which enables them,
for example, to be used in foldable cell phone chargers, for example, 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.
To further develop the new technology, BASF and Bosch are also
cooperating on special research activities with the Dresden-based company Heliatek
GmbH; each of them is investing €1.6 million in the start-up company, founded
in 2006. The other investors are Wellington Partners and the ''High-Tech Gründerfonds''.
Heliatek specialises in the manufacture of new-generation organic solar cells.
The company is working on an ultra-efficient technology to build large-scale modules
on cheap, flexible substrates using a roll-to-roll production process.
is conducting research into semi-conductive organic materials with high thermal
and photo-thermal stability. These materials are intended to replace the function
of the silicon used today by absorbing sunlight and converting it into electric
power. They represent the beginning of a system innovation and determine key properties
of the end product. BASF contributes its broad-based expertise in the field of
organic electronics and the design, synthesis and production of complex organic
compounds to the project.
is working in close interdisciplinary collaboration with Bosch - and at an early
stage. This will allow us to jointly create the conditions needed to develop the
product more swiftly and to gain a competitive advantage globally," said
Dr. Stefan Marcinowski, executive research director, and member of BASF''s board
of executive directors. "Organic photovoltaics becomes a strategic focus
of our growth clusters energy management and nanotechnology."
will look at issues relating to industrial production. "We want to use organic
photovoltaics to make solar energy available cost-effectively," explained
Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the Bosch board of management, with responsibility
for research and advance engineering. This can only be done through efficient
mass production, and Bosch aims to develop the appropriate processes. "At
the same time we want to use this opportunity to get closer to our vision of an
energy self-sufficient home."
has made considerable progress here; it has already successfully launched technologies
for producing renewable energies, including solar collectors for generating hot
water, large gear units for wind farms, heat pumps, and vegetable oil- and wood
researchers aim to develop organic solar cells that convert at least 10 per cent
of incident light into energy and offer a service life of more than ten years.
BASF''s ''Joint Innovation
Lab - Organic Electronics'', opened in 2006 in Ludwigshafen, acts as a cooperation
platform for the industry and university partners. Experts there are working in
areas like organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), a technology based, like organic
photovoltaics, on organic semi-conductive materials.