Peshawar UET develops low-cost solar panels – Pakistan

PESHAWAR: The Center for Advanced Studies and Energy at the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar, with the help of international partners, has developed solar modules at half the price of existing silicon modules using third generation solar photovoltaic technology.

The lightweight and flexible panels will be officially unveiled this week, said the project’s lead investigator at UET, Dr. Najeebullah, across from Dawn.

Also part of the initiative were Prof. Han from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China and Dr. Toby Meyer from Solaronixmix in Switzerland.

Dr. Najeebullah, who has a PhD in materials science from Cambridge University, said the research phase of the project started in 2014, while prototyping of the third generation solar modules started in 2019 at the UET’s Advanced Studies and Energy Center with funding from the state government support.

Initiative with modern technology and with the help of international partners

He said the center was founded in 2014 with support from USAID.

The lead researcher said the third generation photovoltaic solar panels would cost 50 percent less than those made using silicon photovoltaic technology and mainly manufactured and sold in the country by Chinese companies.

He said the third generation solar panels would cost less than the existing ones because the materials used in them are locally available and require a lower temperature to manufacture.

Dr. Najeebullah said the solar modules on the market require highly refined cast silicon with a purity of 99.99999 percent and a processing temperature of 1100 degrees Celsius and more.

“We have replaced silicon with the naturally available metal halide provskit in our product, which is made at 450 degrees Celsius,” he said.

He said Prof. Han is working to commercialize the emerging solar technology and will build a 200 MW unit in China’s Huwan region.

Prof. Hantold Dawn that he would like to work with “our friend” Pakistan on technology transfer.

He called on the Chinese and Pakistani governments to promote technology transfer and to provide billions of dollars in funding for the commercialization of emerging solar technology under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative.

Dr. Najeebullah said Dr. Toby Meyer, who did his doctorate at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne in Switzerland, helped set up the prototyping laboratory at UET.

“Dr. Toby has been working on third-generation solar PV since 1994. He is a student of Prof. Michael Graetzel, the pioneer of third-generation solar modules,” he said.

The lead researcher said four companies in the world, including Oxford PV in the UK and Germany, Wonder Solar, founded by Prof. Han, Microquanta, GCL-nano, both in China, and others, have so far set up production units and tested their products on site were about to make their products available for commercial use.

When contacted, the prime minister’s advisor on higher education, Kamran Bangash, said the government has fully supported such innovations and has therefore extended the duration of this solar technology project for another year.

“Such interventions will generate revenue for the universities and make them self-reliant,” he said.

Posted in Dawn on April 6, 2021

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