Belgian-Dutch project Solar Flare drives research into solar power

Increasing the proportion of Europe’s energy that comes from renewable sources is a key EU goal. The Solar Flare project works towards this goal by aiming to make the production of solar cells cheaper, more efficient, and more attractive for builders.

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A CIGS solar cell on steel foil. © A CIGS solar cell on steel foil. ©

" Thanks to the cross-border project, we now know which companies are working on the various different aspects related to the development of solar energy. This makes future cooperation on new technology a lot easier and steers new developments and investments towards the needs of companies. "

Marc Meuris, Programme Manager at Solliance and imec/imomec

Through the project, businesses cooperate with each other and research institutions to stimulate and coordinate research into new solar technologies in Belgium and the Netherlands. Research focuses on alternative environmentally-friendly materials, cost effective deposition, and processing technologies for copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cells.

The project has also created a regional roadmap for thin-film solar cell technology applications based on concrete business cases and defined local targets and actions.  It further organises visits between companies and research institutions through the support of Solliance – a strategic partnership between researchers that offer a “one-stop shop” R&D capacity for companies involved in the production of thin film solar cells and modules.

Scientific and popular publications as well as workshops and conferences also feature as Solar Flare project actions.

Promoting regional expertise

Solar Flare has a number of wider economic and technological objectives. This includes stimulating overall regional growth in Flanders and the southern Netherlands by promoting these regions’ strengths in solar technology worldwide at specialised events through publications, presentations, and other actions.

The main result of Solar Flare however is helping to create the Solliance partnership between five research institutes – in Leuven (Imec), Hasselt (UHasselt) and Eindhoven (TNO, TUe, ECN) - in order to coordinate their thin-film PV research capabilities and facilities. In this way Solliance can offer the potential of more than 250 researchers working on projects for industrial partners. Greater collaboration between institutes helps to create a cost effective R&D environment for companies so that they can choose the R&D facilities they need to create business.  

The project management has estimated that seven to ten full time jobs may be created from 2015 onwards on the basis of cooperation between the companies in the project. In addition, about 20 full time jobs could be financed through future regional, national, and European grants related to the work carried out by the project.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Solar Flare” is EUR 1 571 754, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 610 000 from the Operational Programme “Belgium - Netherlands” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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