Prototype solar panel

A new initiative funded by the Carbon Trust hopes to make solar power an affordable choice for homeowners within 10 years.

We will capitalise on the local Cambridge strengths in taking science to manufacturing.

Professor Friend

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels offer great promise as a source of clean and renewable electricity generation but the high cost of manufacturing the silicon-based PV panels has been a prohibitive drawback to their use. A new research and development programme led by Professor Sir Richard Friend, Dr Neil Greenham and Professor Henning Sirringhaus at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, in collaboration with The Technology Partnership, hopes to solve this problem. The team are using a plastic-based technology to create the solar cells. A prototype has already been built and the new funding will allow scaling up to large sheets of PV film that can be sited on windows or roofs to capture solar energy.

By 2017, the aim is for these plastic solar cells to be delivering 1GW of power, equivalent to carbon dioxide savings of more than 1 million tonnes per year. ‘This is a timely opportunity to build on technology developed in the University,’ said Professor Friend. ‘We will capitalise on the local Cambridge strengths in taking science to manufacturing.’

The Carbon Trust is funding the initiative. Tom Delay, Chief Executive, explained the importance of the research: ’We believe this exciting new organic PV technology is our best shot at dramatically reducing the cost of solar PV to the point that, in the next 10 years, it could become as cheap as the power currently delivered to our homes.’

For more information, please contact Dr Neil Greenham( or the Carbon Trust (; Tel: +44 (0)20 7544 3100).


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