With an ambitious plan, a large consortium of Dutch solar companies, SolarNL, wants to give the solar industry a leading position in Europe. The goal is to build several factories in just a few years, SolarNL says in a press release. This should produce high-efficiency circular solar panels that take into account the specific requirements of the European and Dutch markets.

They should be much easier to recycle, more aesthetically pleasing and also applicable to vehicles or on roofs that are not suitable for standard panels. To make the program possible, the parties have applied for a grant from the National Growth Fund. In addition to solar companies, participants include TNO and the Hogeschool van Amsterdam.

Opportunities for Europe

There is a huge opportunity to build a local industry on European soil as well. Currently, 97 percent of solar panels come from China. The demand for materials, production machinery and other crucial technology from China, the U.S. and other countries such as India is enormous. So is the suction power on investment projects, technical expertise and manpower.

By taking action now, the Netherlands can place itself at the forefront of the European solar industry. This European industry must distinguish itself in innovative products: higher conversion efficiency and products for large-scale integration of solar technology that do not exist today.

Factory concept

SolarNL will focus on three points. High-efficiency solar cells based on the new state-of-the-art “silicon-heterojunction” technology) with top efficiency: 25-26 percent. For this purpose, a factory will be built that can produce on a large scale and cheaply (production volume 3 GWp/year). The factory concept can later be copied to other locations in the Netherlands and Europe (18 GWp/year).

Flexible solar foils

Flexible solar films that are easily recyclable (based on perovskite). A separate factory is also being built for this with a production facility of 1 GWp/year. These solar cells can be applied in places where conventional panels do not suffice. Some 1,000 km2 of solar technology needs to be installed in the Netherlands by the year 2050, and that is not possible with conventional rigid glass panels alone.

Solar panels for specific applications

Integrated circular lightweight solar panels for specific applications, in roofs and walls of buildings, cars and trucks. This will use the cells and foils developed in the first two program lines. Solar panels are also being developed with a stacking of silicon and perovskite, so-called tandem technology, with which an efficiency of more than 30 percent can be achieved, almost half more than current regular panels.

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