Next Generation Solar Manufacturing: Oxford PV

As Europe turns its attention to ensuring a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the solar sector is ready to step
up to maintain the momentum of the Commission’s central priority: the European
Green Deal. In order to achieve the Green Deal’s energy and climate objectives,
European solar PV manufacturing presents a golden opportunity to invest in a
strategic technology of the future. This not only creates new jobs and
sustainable growth, but increases Europe’s energy security and autonomy, and as
Europe has always been the cradle of solar innovation, we already have many
cutting-edge manufacturing projects that are shovel-ready and at the forefront
of the sector.

The ‘Solar Manufacturing Accelerator’ is an initiative from SolarPower Europe – and strategic
partners ESMC, ETIP-PV, IPVF, and VDMA – that is aimed at accelerating the
deployment of solar PV manufacturing projects in Europe as a critical milestone
to strengthen European leadership in renewable technologies and contribute to the
continent’s re-industrialisation. The Accelerator is open to all companies and organisations interested in developing or
partnering on solar manufacturing projects.

In this blog series, we talk with representatives of the first 10 European solar manufacturing projects to join the Accelerator, all of whom presented at our Solar Manufacturing Accelerator Conference. Combined, the 10 projects represent more than 20,000 new jobs in Europe, and feature the latest in the manufacturing and innovation of cells, modules, and wafers.

Oxford PV is a pioneer and world-leader in perovskite solar PV. Their solar cells hold the efficiency world record, starting with 26% efficiency and the road to achieving 35% efficiency. This EU-developed technology is compatible with existing industry infrastructure, and is the best commercial option for making solar energy significantly more cost-efficient and sustainable than incumbent technologies We asked Jon Ekker, Chief Commercial Officer of Oxford PV some questions about the project.

1) Please briefly introduce your project

Our project aims to expand Oxford PV’s perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cell production capacity from the initial 125 MW in Germany to 10 GW total in Europe.

2) How does your project innovate the solar sector?

Our patent-protected solar cell technology will position Europe as the global leader in next-generation solar PV technology. Solar cell efficiency has the biggest impact on the financial performance of solar systems. Silicon has been the mainstream solar cell technology for the last 60 years, but now all silicon technologies are reaching their 25% practical efficiency limit. Oxford PV’s efficiency world record established in 2018 proved that our perovskite-on-silicon cells can break this limit – starting now with 26% efficiency commercially, and with a roadmap to over 35% efficiency. There is no other technology that can enable this level of performance commercially.

3) What kind of jobs will be created, and which skills are you looking for in workers?

We expect our project to benefit the entire European PV value chain. Our technology is a key enabler to ensure high-efficiency solar modules can be built in Europe. According to estimations from Fraunhofer ISE, this will include the creation of approximately 3,000 jobs in cell manufacturing. An additional approximately 4,500 jobs created throughout the value chain will include module manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, wafer suppliers, and material and chemical suppliers.

4) Will your project help accelerate the energy transition?

Yes, absolutely. Our production will significantly contribute to EU solar demand, with an opportunity to address >10GW per year by 2030. Our solar cells are compatible with existing industry infrastructure, can be assembled into standard PV modules and will initially offer 20% more power on the same module footprint as conventional silicon PV, with a roadmap extending to >40% more power. This transformational change in performance will make solar energy more sustainable and improve the investment case for solar plant investors.

5) What support do you need financial or otherwise – to realise the project?

Scaling from 125 MW to 10 GW will require more than €250 million in investment. Access to competitive cost of capital, as set out in the EU Green Deal, is important for us to realise this project.

6) Describe your vision of Europe’s energy future

Oxford PV’s core value, “protecting the planet”, is at the heart of everything we do and is closely aligned with the EU’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2050. This commitment is only possible by increasing the investment in sustainable, low-cost, European-produced clean energy sources, which includes solar PV. Our solar technology innovated and manufactured in the EU will help to meet the EU’s clean energy goals, and provide a secure and affordable source of energy in Europe.

The Solar Manufacturing Accelerator, which at the moment gathers 40+ participating organisations, will support more industrial projects and is committed to delivering the future of European solar PV manufacturing. If you wish to learn more, please contact Naomi Chevillard: n.chevillard@solarpowereurope.org.

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