Wroclaw (Poland) (AFP)
A Polish company on Friday launched the world’s first industrial production line for solar panels based on breakthrough perovskite technology, which could revolutionize access to solar energy.
Named after the Baltic sun goddess, Willow Technologies manufactures solar panel sheets using a new inkjet printing process invented by company founder Olga Malinkiewicz.
“We are moving forward from the laboratory to the production line,” said Malinkiewicz, whose company is based in the southern city of Wroclaw.
Cutting-edge technology has been around for almost a decade, but the plant’s opening comes at a fortuitous time as the EU member is experiencing a solar boom.
Poland has long relied on coal for most of its energy needs, but as part of an EU plan to cut emissions, its mines are set to close by 2049.
Photovoltaic panels covered with perovskite film are light, flexible and can easily be attached to almost any surface to generate electricity even inside buildings.
Manufacturing costs are reduced thanks to the inkjet printing process of perovskites, which allows the panels to be produced at lower temperatures.
Malinkiewicz developed the treatment method in 2013 while still a doctoral student at the University of Valencia in Spain.
His discovery earned him an article in the journal Nature as well as an award from MIT and first place in a competition organized by the European Commission.
Today, “we are opening the world’s first perovskite solar cell factory,” she told AFP.
# photo1 According to her, “demand is already exceeding production capacity,” which is initially estimated at 40,000 square meters per year (430,550 square feet).
– In the Himalayas and in outer space –
The first commercial orders come from the Internet of Things and construction sectors.
The technology used consists of printing layers of photovoltaic cells on transparent plastic sheets.
Panels can be very small or large, and can also be cut or glued together to cover larger areas.
“We use synthetic perovskites which can achieve considerable efficiency and potency and which we do not have to extract from nature,” said Malinkiewicz at the inauguration of the plant.
# photo2 She told AFP that perovskite solar modules have been tested in space simulators, “with excellent results.”
A flexible perovskite solar panel the size of an A3 sheet of paper “proved effective as a charger for phones and other types of electronic equipment on a Himalayan expedition, in extreme weather conditions,” he said. she declared.
The company, which has a team of 70 people from 15 countries, has received funding from Polish green energy leader Columbus Energy and multi-millionaire Japanese investor Hideo Sawada.
The firm is now preparing to launch on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and is also considering new factories in Europe or perhaps Japan.
“Of all photovoltaic systems in Europe, only 4% are made on the continent,” said Malinkiewicz.
“We are on the same wavelength as the European Union when it comes to the importance of building them in our region,” she added.
© 2021 AFP