Integration of hybrid organic-based solar cells for micro-generation

  • Brian Azzopardi

Student thesis: Phd


Despite the fact that the global photovoltaic (PV) market has grown rapidly during the last two decades, driven by global climate change concerns and public policy supports of renewable energy sources, a PV system is still considered an expensive alternative energy source when compared to other sources of electricity. Emerging organic-based PV solar cells may lead to significant price reductions of a PV system. Though, in the short and medium term, the lifetime, efficiencies and reliability are expected to be lower than current commercially available silicon wafer-based and mature inorganic thin film PV modules.A consortium formed by inter-disciplinary scientists and engineers between the University of Manchester and Imperial College London was set-up to investigate organic-based hybrid solar cells. Potential solar cell materials with higher resultant conversion efficiency in research, targeting lower costs than other PV technologies were developed. The designs investigated feature hybrid organic-based quantum dot (QD) solar cells topology.This research seeks to integrate this new PV technology concept into future PV micro-generators. The challenges faced by emerging PV technologies with regard to PV module lifetime, efficiency and cost / price were summarised. The uniqueness of this work is that, throughout this research, the issues for commercialisation of emerging PV technologies for micro-generation; in particular with regards to low efficiency, short lifetime and high efficiency degradation, and low-cost / price were extensively analysed in every aspect.The technical, economic and also environmental viability perspectives of emerging PV technologies for micro-generation were found. A wide range of models and / or methodologies were developed, extended or applied for the first time to PV technologies for micro-generation, with particular focus where possible on the hybrid organic-based QD solar cells. Lifetime-adjusted calculations and life cycle costing were used to determine cost boundaries and PV electricity costs. Life cycle environmental impacts were determined by the use of life cycle analysis. A mixed integer single / multi-objective optimisation program was developed to determine optimal, compromise and trade-off relationships on PV system characteristics. These PV system characteristics, which are analysed on a systems level included module efficiency, grid interconnection rating, solar fraction, energy storage capacities, annualised life cycle costs, project worth value and environmental CO2 impacts / benefit. Finally, PV technologies for micro-generation were ranked by the use of multi-criteria decision analysis. The results clarify, inform and suggest concepts for emerging PV technologies integration for micro-generation by providing boundaries, trade-offs and suggestions to all stakeholder including commercial, domestic and public bodies.The direction for future research in emerging PV technologies for micro-generation is identified to be the development of customer decision tools for diversified PV technologies, policy adaptation for the inclusion of emerging PV technologies and large-scale manufacturing investigations on emerging PV modules that makes use of an organic-based PV technology.
Date of Award31 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJoseph Mutale (Supervisor)

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