This research area covers the research and development of devices to harness incident solar radiation for conversion to other energy vectors or for direct use.
Research and development of devices to harness incident solar radiation for conversion to other energy vectors or for direct use. Including solar thermal, heating and cooling, and all photovoltaic (PV) technologies, this research area also encompasses relevant socio-economic and environmental issues as part of design considerations (for example public acceptability of large-scale deployment of solar cells in the built environment).
This area only includes research building on proof-of-principle validated materials, for example optimisation of materials and devices, technology development, structural materials development and materials engineering.
Research into fundamental new and novel materials for current and future energy technologies is not included in this area, which is covered by Materials for energy applications.
We will continue to support a breadth of solar technology research, a key energy generation technology which is, and will continue contributing to the cost effective and efficient decarbonisation of the energy system, not just in the UK but internationally.
Our research will include:
- a greater focus on thin films, flexible PV and the utilisation of new materials (offering increased power conversion efficiencies, better stability, lower costs)
- transferable skills from other topics within the research area (such as crystalline silicon, dye-sensitised cells)
- solar fuels, solar thermal and floating solar as emerging research areas
- recognising the importance of systems integration.
We will encourage the community to collaborate with groups and organisations outside this area to identify and address joint energy challenges and to widen their knowledge and skill sets.
The solar community has been particularly successful in building links with industry, where the delivery of joint projects has strengthened UK solar capabilities and provided a route for technology development at higher technology readiness levels (TRLs). We will continue to support and provide resources, where necessary, to help accelerate commercialisation of novel technologies into UK and international markets.
Significant advances in solar technology have arisen from underpinning materials sciences. This research area will work in conjunction with the Materials for Energy Applications area to continue supporting design and development of new and existing materials to push for greater power conversion for solar technology applications.
This research area is also recognised as potentially relevant to the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s Official Development Assistance funding streams.