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Solliance and Forschungszentrum Jülich join forces in thin film solar cell research

Jülich, 3 December - Forschungszentrum Jülich and Solliance announce a new partnership in the field of thin film photovoltaics. Solliance is a cross-border initiative by ECN, imec, Holst Centre, TNO and TU Eindhoven. With Jülich as an additional partner, Solliance grows further as R&D cluster bringing thin film solar energy technology to excellence and is ramping up its activities to gain market share internationally. Some partner companies are successful global players in their segment already. The science and technology in this field are world class in selected areas, with a track record of 15 to 30 years.

Photovoltaic solar energy (PV) has experienced rapid global market growth and price reduction over the past decades. The capacity installed worldwide by the end of 2010 was approximately 40 Gigawatt-peak (GWp). In 2011 this has increased to 67 GWp and is expected to grow further in the coming years, with an estimated potential for up to 50 percent of the total global electricity production or 12 to 15 TWp at the end of the 21st century. Thin film solar cells open up a way to a flexible, reliable, affordable and sustainable technology that can be integrated in all kinds of applications like, for example, building elements. In 2011 the market share of thin film technologies stood at approximately 10 percent and is expected to grow to 30 percent in 2020.

Solliance works in close cooperation with industry, on three main thin film technologies: thin film silicon (Si), copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) and alternatives and organic photovoltaics (OPV). For these principal themes Solliance collaborates with the industry at its facilities in Eindhoven, imec’s facilities in Leuven, and Forschungszentrum Jülich. Solliance not only provides direct answers to the industry’s most pressing questions; it also concentrates on mid- and long term research towards generic technologies that will be vital to any thin film PV industry: testing, characterization and monitoring, laser technologies, light management by mechanical texturization, transparent conductive layers, monolithic interconnection, new OPV device development, thin film deposition techniques, sheet-to-sheet processing, roll-to-roll (R2R) processing, and in-line monitoring.

Professor Harald Bolt, member of the board of directors at Forschungszentrum Jülich: "Cross border cooperation between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, together with industry, offers the Solliance partners the opportunity to combine their strengths in thin film PV R&D and withstand the heavy competition in this field."

Hein Willems, Solliance's director: "Strengthened by our sixth partner Jülich, our research on Thin Film Si now stretches across the entire field, from fundamentals of materials science to sophisticated production technologies."

Jülich excels in several energy technologies. The Institute of Energy Research (IEK-5) – Photovoltaics has concentrated its work on thin-film silicon solar cells and related materials for several decades. Based on fundamental research on materials and light confinement, new concepts are developed and applied from lab size up to fully industry compatible dimensions and processes. Additionally, Jülich is specialized in optical, electrical and opto-electronic characterization and simulation of light scattering of optical components and full solar cell devices.

Solliance's ambition is to strengthen the position of the Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen triangle (ELAT region) as a world player in thin film PV. Solliance now creates synergy among more than 250 researchers with this common goal. Solliance aims to realize this ambition by joint use of state-of-the-art infrastructure, alignment of research programs, and close cooperation with the solar business community. Solliance is amongst others financially supported by the Dutch Province of Noord-Brabant.

VertragsunterzeichnungSigning of the contract by Solliance’s director Dr. Hein Willems (front right) and Prof. Harald Bolt (front left), member of the board of directors at Forschungszentrum Jülich, in the presence of (in the background from left to right): ir. Paul (P.A.O.G.) Korting, CEO ECN; Dhr. H.P.N. Henk Scheepers, member of the steering board on behalf of Province North Brabant, NL; Dr. ir. Egbert-Jan Sol, Director of Innovation High-Tech Systems and Materials, TNO, NL; Prof. Dr. Jef Poortmans, Program Director PV, imec, Leuven, Belgien; Prof. Dr. Ir. Hans van Duijn, Rector Magnificus TU Eindhoven, NL; ir. Jaap (J.H.M.) Lombaers, CEO Holst, Eindhoven, NL.
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich

Solliance Partners:

  • ECN, the leading energy research institute in the Netherlands, very successful in the development of crystalline silicon PV technology; transferred its entire thin film research group to Eindhoven.
  • Imec, a world-leading research institute in nanoelectronics, based in Flanders, participates with its OPV and CIGS PV research groups.
  • TNO, the leading Dutch institute for applied scientific research and strong in generic technologies; has transferred all its work on PV to Solliance.
  • Holst Centre, a joint research initiative of imec and TNO, joined Solliance with a focus on its work on roll-to-roll processes, mainly oriented towards OPV on flexible substrates.
  • TU/e, Eindhoven University of Technology, participates with its research groups Molecular Materials & Nanosystems, and Plasma & Materials Processing.
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich is one of the large interdisciplinary research centres in Europe, the Photovoltaics section of the Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK-5) belongs to the world leading research institutions in the range of thin-film photovoltaics based on amorphous and nanocrystalline silicon.

Solliance is supported by the Dutch province of Noord Brabant, which has dedicated € 28 million to Solliance. This will fund a large shared laboratory in Eindhoven with the newest equipment, complementing the partner’s labs which are also available to the other partners.

Further information:

Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Photovoltaics (IEK-5)


Dr. Hein Willems, director of Solliance, tel. +31 622 520099,
Prof. Uwe Rau, director of the Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Photovoltaics (IEK-5), tel. +49 2461 61 1554,

Press contact:

Tobias Schlößer, Forschungszentrum Jülich
tel. +49 2461 61-4771