Dublin based Nines Photovoltaics was awarded €1.2 million in funding through a highly competitive European Framework Programme 7 (FP7), to further develop its innovative sustainable solar cell manufacturing technology.
Nines Photovoltaics has developed a potentially highly disruptive methodology for the manufacturing process of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells (a device that converts sunlight into electricity). This new technology will reduce the cost of production and the overall environmental impact while increasing the speed and degree of process control required for the production of Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells.
Commenting on the significance of the technology Edward Duffy, CEO, Nines Photovoltaics said “From a cost and environmental perspective the current solar cell production process is unsustainable and limits the ability for Solar PV to compete with traditional energy sources. In 2010 there were roughly 10 billion solar cells produced worldwide, consuming over 25 billion litres of water and other chemicals. The heavy environmental footprint of solar cell manufacturing is strangling the ability of the PV sector to grow and meet the growing power demand. There is enough solar energy available to power the whole planet 100 times over but we must learn to harvest this energy in a sustainable and cost effective way.”
The technology that Nines has developed enables the solar cell producer to dramatically lower their water consumption and enables investment in further scaling of their manufacturing facilities. Nines Photovoltaics is the first company to offer a process solution which uses a fully dry process using only Zero Global Warming Potential chemicals.
The FP7 funding enables Nines to collaborate with a consortium of European partners, Research institutes and SMEs, with specific expertise and domain knowledge to further develop the technology and bring the end product to the global market. Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development (FP7) promotes R&D collaborations amongst European countries. Nines Photovoltaics is leading this project from the front and will collaborate with the Fraunhofer IWS Institute in Dresden, Germany, the Fraunhofer ISE Institute in Freiburg, Germany, Vestlandsforsking in Norway, Alyxan in France, Solartech in Czech Republic, and Zimmermann & Schip Handhabungstechnik GmbH in Germany.
Laurent Clochard, CTO, added: “This award is a superb endorsement of our technology by a panel of European experts and we feel very much vindicated in our technological development choices. We have been working on developing this technology for the last 2 years, capitalising on our semiconductor process knowledge, and have made some significant progress with our partners in Germany. The solar industry is a relatively young industry, growing very fast and there are many opportunities. It is very much a global market and we are planning to export 100% of our products. We hope to equip our first production lines in Q4 2012 with PV manufacturers based across the globe. ”
Welcoming the announcement John O’Dea, Enterprise Ireland Manager High Potential Start Ups said: “This is a very high tech company showing strong success. As the lead partner in this project, Nines Photovoltaics is working with leading international researchers and companies in a partnership that enhances the international standing of the company. Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support Nines Engineering and to working with them as they continue to develop their international business”.
Nines Photovoltaics is currently going through a second round of funding in order to finance further product development and insure global market penetration.
About Nines Photovoltaics
Nines Photovoltaics (nines-pv.com) is the latest, market specific initiative to come from Nines Engineering. Nines Engineering specializes in custom design and manufacturing of high purity process modules for the micro and nanotechnology fabrication industry. In 2009 the founders identified a niche area in the Photovoltaic industry to which they could apply their expertise from the Semiconductor Industry. Based in the Synergy Centre on the Tallaght IT Campus, the company is headed up by Edward Duffy CEO, Laurent Clochard CTO and Simon Forsyth CFO.
About FP7 Partners.
The Fraunhofer IWS (Institute for Material and Beam Technology), Germany
The institute offers application-oriented research and development in the area of laser and surface technology. The CVD group focuses on development and optimization of customized etching and deposition technologies at atmospheric pressure, and development and prototyping of equipment for industrial applications, including advanced process monitoring solutions.
The Fraunhofer ISE (Institute for Solar Energy), Germany
Europe’s largest institute in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency with a total of more than 1000 employees. Fraunhofer ISE holds numerous records in the field of solar cells from crystalline silicon wafers. In March 2006 the Photovolatic - Technology Evaluation Centre (PV-TEC) was inaugurated, being the largest non-commercial R&D laboratory for PV technology world-wide. Covering the whole process chain for standard and advanced processing, it offers unique options for R&D on a pilot equipment level. Thus the gap between standard lab type pilot processing (typically in the range of 100 wafers/day and the industrial throughput rates of 2000 wafers/hour can be closed.
Develop and commercialise novel gas measurement systems (FT-ICR mass spectrometer). Recognised experts in gas phase chemistry and analysis. The instrument FTICR-MS (Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry) they have developed is unique and provides precise information rich gas measurement.
Solartec, Czech Republic
Solartec are focused on crystalline silicon solar cell process development and subsequent production according to the requirements of their clients (various sizes, shapes, colors, concentration ratios, contact structures, optical sensors)
Norwegian based R&D institute with competence in the fields of social studies, natural sciences, technology and the humanities. Environmental impact and risk assessment are major areas for evaluating industrial processes and products, in which the research takes the concept of sustainable development as its starting point. Industrial Ecology is applied for increasing the knowledge of how to reduce the environmental impacts of industrial production and products. Their involvement ensures that there are environmental improvements from the development of the new process.
Zimmermann & Schilp Handhabungstechnik GmbH, Germany
Z&S provide high-tech systems for the handling of highly sensitive products in an industrial environment. The core competence of Z&S lies in the internally developed ultrasound-air-bearing technology for non-contact handling of surface-sensitive and fragile products. Z&S acts as provider for complete automated handling systems as well as supplier for handling modules to be integrated into process tools. Applications include semiconductor, PV and glass handling industry.