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SolarXTRA • news digest
Canada sets up PV network - Feb 2, 2010
A new research network to advance Canada’s standing in the
development of solar photovoltaics will be based at McMaster
University. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada (NSERC) announced $5M in funding
today for the establishment of the NSERC Photovoltaic
Innovation Network. The Network is comprised of 29 top
scientists and engineers working in the field of advanced
solar cell research at 13 universities across Canada. Eleven
private sector companies are also part of the network.
The Network aims to raise the status of solar photovoltaics
(PV) as a renewable energy option in Canada by
accelerating research and development and commercializing
the outcomes.
“In particular, the network will develop new intellectual
property in PV for adoption by Canadian industry to
supply strong domestic demand currently met by foreign
companies,” explained Rafael Kleiman, Scientific Director
-pv of the Network and a Professor of Engineering Physics at
McMaster. “It will help Canada compete globally in this
rapidly growing sector.”
The Network anticipates training 88 research personnel over five years to provide highly skilled and creative
employees for positions in industry and academia.
“Our government’s investments in science and technology are creating jobs, stimulating the economy and improving
Canadians’ quality of life,” noted the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. “We are investing more in
innovation than ever before in Canada’s history. By supporting the research being done by these networks, we are
building the economy of tomorrow and helping our universities blaze the way to greater long-term prosperity and
innovation that will benefit Canadians for years to come.”
The NSERC Photovoltaic Network is one of 11 research networks announced today, which will receive $56 million in
NSERC grants over five years.
Mo Elbestawi, vice-president, research & international affairs, said the establishment of the NSERC Photovoltaic
Innovation Network at McMaster speaks volumes of the University’s reputation and leadership in green, sustainable
and renewable energy. “This new network epitomizes what we’re about,” he said. “We’re building on our strengths to
create a critical mass of expertise in energy research and, in turn, helping Canadian companies remain competitive.”
PV cells convert light from the broad solar spectrum directly to electricity, with the energy conversion efficiency and
cost (in $/W) being the most important device metrics. The proposed collaborative and multi-disciplinary research
program has the specific objectives of increasing the device conversion efficiency and/or reducing the device cost to
make large scale PV deployment more competitive against electricity generation from fossil fuels.
Four central research themes have been identified with promising new approaches:
- organic devices with inherently low costs of materials and manufacturing;
- inorganic devices which to date are the mostly widely deployed (the most common of which are silicon-based);
- hybrid organic/inorganic devices that have the potential to combine the lower costs of organic devices with the
higher efficiencies of inorganic devices; and
- new PV devices and architectures which take advantage of the unique properties of nano-structured materials.
Transparent solar cells optimized for integration into house or building windows and socioeconomic factors related to
adoption of PV technology will also be considered.
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