The European Perovskite Initiative (launched in May 2019) gathers the majority of organizations working on perovskite photovoltaics in Europe. It aims to organize the community of research institutes, universities, and companies to tackle the industry challenges more efficiently.
Building this kind of platform is a truly ambitious task. It involves raising awareness at the European Union & national levels and creating a synergistic environment for all significant parties. To get more insights on the topic, we had a brief chat with Louis Huber from GreenSquare SPRL, who coordinates the EPKI along with Ronn Andriessen from Solliance.
“After ten years of European industrial disaster in PV panels manufacturing, the interest and focus have shifted away towards other blocs of the value chain, such as grid management or storage technologies (e.g., the European Battery Alliance). So, within a worldwide booming PV market, the first important goal would be to demonstrate the relevancy for manufacturing PV modules in Europe and not only importing them.” – says Huber.
He further adds that specific applications like BAPV or BIPV need custom solutions, and the production should be closer to the demand. Moreover, the seamless integration of PV modules into our environment will become more and more essential. On the other hand, the cost of perovskite solar cells is expected to decrease and require less capital than mainstream c-Si solar panels. These factors open plenty of opportunities for well-designed and adapted products made in Europe.
“Another goal would be to design the best possible platform to get the involvement of the EU industry and investors. Today, they are too cold, especially after these dark years for the PV industry. Although they largely acknowledge and agree on the big potential for this technology, none of the foreseen potential stakeholders has the ambitions to really invest in it alone.”
This problem could be potentially solved by creating an alliance of the R&D partners and proposing a “united champion R&D program” to a consortium of investors. It might result in increased success rates, lowered risks, and divided costs.
Huber hopes for an ambitious roadmap for renewable energy technologies by the new European Commission. “We would welcome more financial support and more Horizon calls directed towards perovskite PV. However, the Horizon programme addresses only a part of the challenge. Since it requires proposals de facto competing with each other, it is not creating the collaborative frame for the EU, industry, and investment communities,” – he explains. “A massive wake up is necessary at the EU and state levels to raise awareness around perovskite PV and communicate the possibilities for Europe.”
When asked about fighting the competition, especially from Asia, he answers that the competitive advantage lies in mastering advanced technology backed by excellent R&D. Highly performing Research requires the right level of investment, and the joint/consortium approach described earlier could help to get to the necessary financial scale for obtaining and defending excellent world-class technology for Europe. Also, he sees a complementary approach – specialization. It means focusing on specific applications that require high customization levels, for example, products with lower environmental impacts and higher recyclability.
“It seems very clear that China is and will be very active on the topic. The Chinese government, through a vast network of research centers and together with major leading PV suppliers established in the country, has been supporting PV related R&D for many years now. Perovskite PV is no exception with great efforts, and currently, two pilot lines are being installed. One of the industrial front runners is the silicon giant group GCL that recently announced its plan to have a 1 GW perovskite cell production line running by 2022 (under GCL Nano),” says Huber. “In Japan, large groups are very active in PK-PV research and are working closely with the research community around NEDO, their state agency for technological R&D. Also, we could highlight the activities of Korea, Australia, and, more recently, the United States.”
He concludes by leaving us an important message. “While the TRL of perovskite photovoltaics progresses rapidly, large European players should start seriously investigating the topic and supporting European research centers to transform our scientific lead into industrial success stories.”
The Saule Technologies Team fully supports the initiative, and we’d like to thank Louis Huber for sharing his observations with us. The road is full of challenges, but we’ll be working hard to push the industry further.
Although the growth of perovskite technology is highly impressive, there will always be risks and doubts. It is just part of the game we all play when working on innovative solutions that can potentially change the world. Great things never come out of our comfort zones.
If you’re ready to become a part of this movement, please make sure to send your information to us, and we’ll get back shortly.