ProSolar: a sunblind that generates renewable energy
Researchers have developed very thin, flexible solar cells that can be mass-produced. This environmental friendly project is turning the Austrian Tyrol region into a leader in photovoltaics.
" The project included great scientific-technological challenges and an equally large development risk. The questions posed and any arising difficulties have largely been framed and solved through a strong focus on process technology. This would not have been possible without funding. "
Cooperation between Sunplugged GmbH (lead partner), PhysTech, Hella Sonnen- und Wetterschutztechnik GmbH, Zitt&Schennach and the Institute for Ion Physics and Applied Physics of Innsbruck University, the project demonstrated how high-tech research in thin-film technology can be integrated into everyday objects. Thanks to advances in process optimisation, the participating enterprises are becoming more competitive internationally, establishing the region of Tyrol as a location for research and technological developments.
From basic research to applied photovoltaics
The project’s main aim was the development of a technology which could integrate thin-film technology into a concrete demonstration object. Following innovations in material and processing, a flexible thin-film solar cell on the basis of a copper-indium-gallium-selenium (CIGS)-cell has been developed.
This new solar cell is particularly thin and flexible and therefore offers a range of new uses. The project demonstrated this by constructing a sun blind with integrated photovoltaic cells – sun protection which produces energy.
A highly competitive market
In order to be able to survive in a competitive market like that for thin-film solar cells, innovations and optimised methods are vital for enterprises. The Tyrol Future Foundation’s K-Regio programme, which is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund, supports these enterprises in high-risk investments and cooperation between business and research.
Thanks to this support, the ProSolar project has been able to develop an economically viable product which, at the same time, helps address the environmental and climate challenges the EU faces. Follow-up projects which will lead to the industrial production of the thin-foil cells have already started.
The project generated two new jobs for a developer and an engineer. It is expected that the industrial implementation of the developed processes will bring additional highly qualified jobs in the area.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “K-Regio ProSolar” is EUR 525 920 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributing EUR 118 332 through the “Tyrol” operational programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.