Developing the next generation of solar energy harvesting technology

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Fifteen British businesses and seven universities are to share £5 million of government funding to enable them to research the use of novel nanoscale technologies to develop the next generation of solar energy harvesting.

Under the RCUK Programme, Nanoscience through Engineering to Application, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board are investing in four industry-led collaborative research and development projects that will address challenges in building the supply chain and scaling-up technologies. The aim of the investment is to help ensure that the UK can become an early and competitive adopter of the novel technologies, placing British companies in a good position to take a share of a global market with rapidly increasing demand.

This investment is part of a two stage initiative under the Nanoscience through Engineering to Application Grand Challenge for Energy. The University partners on three of the funded projects had initially received 3 years of funding from EPSRC and these projects will follow on seamlessly to scale-up the technologies developed in the first stage.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is to provide grants totaling £3.3 million to the academic institutions taking part in the research while the Technology Strategy Board’s grants to the industrial participants will total £1.7 million. The total value of the four projects, taking into account contributions from the industrial partners, will be £7.3 million. The companies leading the projects will be Pilkington Technology Management Ltd, Tata Steel UK, Kurt J Lesker and Intrinsiq Materials Ltd.

Explaining the aims of the competition, 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.”

While the current installed electricity generating capacity is approximately 80GW, projected demand is likely to be up to 50% higher than this by 2050. At the same time, government targets demand an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Provided new innovative methods of energy capture and storage are discovered, developed and exploited rapidly, the sun could provide sufficient energy to make up the shortfall. Nanoscale technologies can enable new solar energy harvesting solutions through the generation of novel materials that can be deployed to deliver commercially attractive efficiencies at a low cost and a reasonable lifetime of service.

Notes to Editors:

1.    The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body, which works to create economic growth by ensuring that the UK is a global leader in innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit:

2.    The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £850 million a year in a broad range of subjects – from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering. For more information please visit:

3.    Further information about Nanotechnology-enabled Solar Energy Harvesting: Building the Supply Chain competition for funding can be found at: Nanotechnology-enabled solar energy harvesting: building the supply chain

4.    The research and development projects to be funded are:

    Project title: Development of Prototype High Efficiency Multi-Junction Organic Solar     Cells
    Partners: Kurt J Lesker (lead), University of Warwick, Asylum Research, Imperial     College London, Molecular Solar, New World Solar
    Contact: Dr Robin Holmes, robinh(at)lesker(dot)com, 01424 458100

    Project Title: Nanocrystalline Water Splitting Photodiodes II; Device Engineering,     Integration & Scale-up
    Partners: Tata Steel UK (lead), TWI, Teer, University College London, University of     Strathclyde
    Contact: Dr Tim English, tim(dot)english(at)tatasteel(dot)com 07824 402647

    Project Title: Scalable, low-cost organic photovoltaic devices (SCALLOPS)
    Partners: Pilkington Technology Management Limited, Imperial College London,     University of Bath, Solvay Interox Limited, NPL Management Ltd, RK Print Coat Instruments Limited, Flexink Ltd
    Contact: Dr. Troy Manning, troy(dot)manning(at)nsg(dot)com 01695 54915

    Project Title: Enhanced solar energy harvesting in dye sensitized solar cells using     nanophosphors and nano-structured optics (CONVERTED)
    Partners: Intrinsiq Materials Ltd, G24 Innovations, Exxelis Ltd, Brunel University
    Contact: Dr Paul Reip, paulreip(at)intrinsiqmaterials(dot)com 01252 399790

5.    The offer of funding to these research and development projects is conditional and remains subject to the successful completion of Technology Strategy Board and EPSRC compliance and financial review processes.

6.    Companies and other organisations seeking further information about Technology Strategy Board funding opportunities should visit the Competitions page of the Technology Strategy Board website –, email competitions(at)tsb(dot)gov(dot)ukor phone the Competitions Helpline on 0300 321 4357.

7.    Media enquiries only should be addressed to the Technology Strategy Board’s media relations consultant or manager:
    Nick Sheppard, Media Relations Consultant - Mobile: 07824 599644, Email: nick(dot)sheppard(at)tsb(dot)gov(dot)uk
    Claire Cunningham, Media Relations Manager - Tel: 01793 442901, Mobile: 07554 115745,     Email: claire(dot)cunningham(at)tsb(dot)gov(dot)uk

8.    To see all press releases from the Technology Strategy Board please visit: Technology Strategy Board - press releases

9.    To subscribe to the Technology Strategy Board’s RSS newsfeed please visit: Technology Strategy Board - RSS feed


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