Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics (NGPV)
The Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics (NGPV) is addressing the key technological needs to help make solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity a major source of energy in the world.
In terms of global electrical energy use, the installed capacity of solar PV allowed it to meet approximately 0.15% (305 gigawatts) of global energy demand as of 2016. By 2030, the total amount of global solar PV capacity could generate enough to meet about 5% of anticipated global energy demand. This presents a significant challenge to the energy sector in relation to solar PV integration, manufacturing, costs, reliability, and access.
To reach solar PV deployment of this magnitude, many challenges must be overcome, including:
- The total cost of PV systems must be reduced, while increasing energy conversion efficiency, reliability, and lifetime.
- The capacity to cost-effectively manufacture solar cells and balance of systems components must be increased.
- Methods to integrate solar PV into the utility grid must continue to improve to ensure affordable and reliable electricity.
- Transportation electrification and advanced building systems must be considered, as they are creating an increase in the application for electricity.
- Technologies must be improved for energy storage, catalyzed chemicals and fuels production, and water purification.
NGPV is helping to establish solar PV electricity as a major source of energy in the United States and the world, by developing new strategies for reducing costs while increasing efficiency. NGPV has targets of $0.05/kilowatt hour (kWh) for residential solar PV and $0.03/kWh for utility-scale solar PV by 2030, to ultimately help significantly reduce carbon emissions.
- Colorado State University
- Texas A&M University
- University of Texas, Austin
Center Deputy Director
Associate Site Director
NGPV research involves all aspects of the entire value chain in the solar PV industry — from fundamental cell technologies, material science, multidisciplinary engineering and technologies, to the end user — in order to advance solar PV from being an alternative energy resource to becoming a widely utilized, mainstream source of electrical energy. The materials and device research encompasses all types of materials used in the solar PV industry, including industry-leading silicon and thin film cadmium telluride (CdTe) and emerging perovskite materials. One of NGPV’s research strengths is its expertise on inexpensive thin film semiconductors that can be processed using high throughput schemes involving state-of-the-art gas phase and solution-based methods. Research topics include:
- Balance of systems and solar PV implementation.
- Education and societal impact of solar PV.
- Solar PV integration with storage and electric vehicles.
- Solar PV materials, devices, and manufacturing. Future work at NGPV will focus on the development of large-area tandem or multijunction solar cells that use inexpensive thin film materials that can be deposited using high-throughput, low-cost methods. These might be solar cells combining a perovskite absorber layer with a silicon absorber layer, or a combination of CdTe and another thin film material. Typically, high-efficiency multijunction solar cells are very expensive to make and are limited to relatively small-area substrates. NGPV research targets the fabrication of low-cost tandem and multijunction solar cells with greater than 30% power conversion efficiencies.