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£2.1 million for national solar energy programme

5 April 2011
Warwick spin-out company Molecular Solar is joining forces with the University of Warwick and four other organisations in a £2.1 million project to develop the next generation of solar energy harvesting technology.

Molecular Solar, which was set up with assistance from Warwick Ventures in 2008, is part of a consortium along with the University of Warwick, the companies Kurt Lesker, Asylum Research and New World Solar, as well as Imperial College London set up to work on the project. It is part of a new national programme, with £1.4M funding provided by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Together the six organisations will work on the development of Prototype High Efficiency Multi-Junction Organic Solar Cells.

Tim Jones, CEO of Molecular Solar and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, said:

“We are working with solar cells made from organic semiconductor materials which offer the prospect of very low cost manufacture of lightweight, flexible cells. They are made from sustainable materials and can be deployed as flexible sheets that could be used for a variety of applications including: a solar powered mobile phone charger that rolls up into a shape as small as the size of a pen, micro-lights that can be added to clothing, and a detachable sun-shade for automobile windscreens that powers a small integral fan to circulate air and cool the interior of the car when parked in direct sunlight.”

Peter Ballantyne, Chairman of Molecular Solar, added:

“The low cost and flexibility of this new technology will lead to new applications that will further accelerate the growth of the solar power market, which has seen 40%/year growth over the last 10 years. Just one significant opportunity in consumer applications is the area of mobile phone chargers where over 1.3 billion units a year are produced.”

In total fifteen British businesses and seven universities will share £5 million of government funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to enable them to research the use of novel nanoscale technologies to develop the next generation of solar energy harvesting.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said:

“These projects will help to position British businesses to exploit the growing global demand for solar energy harvesting technologies – and in the process help grow the British economy – while at the same time provide sustainable energy solutions for the UK. The projects are great examples of how to transfer commercially-focused research into the business community.”

David Delpy, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council said:

“This is the first example of Nanoscience research funding from the Research Councils being directly pulled through to application funding with the Technology Strategy Board via a stage-gated funding route. This approach actively supports economic growth whilst helping to solve one of society's greatest challenges.”