280 years of research time dedicated to boost solar PV sustainability

The Universities of Bath and Liverpool are to lead on a new Government funded scheme for 70 PhD students to develop more sustainable solar PV technology – the equivalent of 280 years of research time.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts today announced £350 million funding for Centres for Doctoral Training which focus on engineering and physical sciences, with Bath and Liverpool leading the solar Centre which will investigate solar PV.

The solar Centre will receive £5 million to fund new PhD students to investigate solar photovoltaic technologies that are competitive enough to withstand market fluctuations, but sustainable in terms of the raw materials and manufacturing methods used.

Projects already identified include working with nanotechnology, low temperature processing and photon engineering, and enhancements to emerging technology.

Industrial partners will be essential to the success of the new Centre, and Bath and Liverpool will lead a consortium which includes BAE Systems, Eight19, Echerkon, LSA Ltd, MSolv, NSG, SiliconCPV, Ossila, Oxford PV, PowerVision and Taylor Hobson.  The other universities involved are Cambridge, Oxford, Sheffield and Southampton.

Professor Alison Walker, Centre lead for the University of Bath, said: “Through the joint efforts of all seven academic partners and their linked industrial collaborators, the Centre’s students will understand fundamentals across all the relevant disciplines, gain state-of-the-art knowledge and get to grips with challenges associated with photovoltaic devices, scale-up and systems. Above all they will be able to engage in leading-edge interdisciplinary research and will be able to seek employment as potential leaders in PV which is a rapidly expanding sector.”

Professor Ken Durose, from the University of Liverpool's Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, and Director of the new Centre said: "Solar energy needs to become more efficient and more sustainable and it is through PhD research that this objective can be achieved. The PhD graduates will go on to become the future leaders of the field. This funding coupled with the industry support, will provide a significant boost to the skills and knowledge base in the sector."

The overall £350m sum invested by the Government and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is the UK's largest investment in postgraduate training in engineering and physical sciences. It will fund 70 new Centres for Doctoral Training, spread across 24 UK universities. All, like the solar Centre run by Bath and Liverpool, focus on areas deemed vital to economic growth. As part of the package of announcements today, we have also received additional funding to continue the two highly successful existing Centres for Doctoral Training we run here at Bath, and to set up a further Centres with a variety of academic and industry partners. Find out more.

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