Merck KGaA is heading the consortium of industrial partners SCHOTT Solar AG (Mainz), Konarka Technologies (Nuremberg), VARTA Microbattery GmbH (Ellwangen) and institutes at the Universities of Ilmenau, Karlsruhe and Oldenburg, as well as the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (Stuttgart). The consortium was established to develop flexible organic solar cells/modules.
The innovation driver of this project is the goal of achieving a significant increase in the efficiency of these components to at least 10% as compared to known approaches to organic solar cells. A further aim is to demonstrate the production of these highly efficient cells using a cost-effective printing process. The outcome would then represent a genuine alternative to existing inorganic solar cells/modules.
The partners in the project will each contribute their own skills along the value-added chain starting with development design and including expertise in OPV materials, the production of solar cells/modules, as well as end-product applications. Merck will be using its research center in Chilworth, Southampton (England), which has already successfully developed and commercialized organic semiconducting materials.
According to plans, initial commercially exploitable results will be available starting in 2012. Potential applications for flexible solar cells will include external powering of portable equipment and lighting, right up to functionalized textiles and integrated power supplies for portable buildings.