$14m in grants given out to improve making of solar cells

$14m in grants given out to improve making of solar cells

Five research teams have received a total of $14 million in grants to devise more efficient ways of making materials to turn sunlight into electricity.

To do so, one team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) is looking for cheaper alternatives to silver, which is needed to produce solar cells, by trying ways to get other materials to behave like the precious metal.

Another team, also from NUS, is working on thinning the silicon used in creating solar cells so as to reduce production costs.

Managing director of the Economic Development Board (EDB), Mr Yeoh Keat Chuan, said: "The projects have garnered strong interest from the private sector for research collaborations."

They will also help position Singapore as a "leading hub for clean energy research" and encourage the Republic to speed up its use of solar cells, he added.

The grants aim to support research and development in the clean energy sector and were given out by the Energy Innovation Programme Office (EIPO), an inter-agency office responsible for strategies and policies for growing the energy sector.

The EIPO is led by EDB and the Energy Market Authority of Singapore.

The current set of grants are the third issued under the Energy Innovation Research Programme (EIRP) and given to scientists who are improving the manufacturing processes for solar wafers, cells and modules.

The grants also go towards innovations in materials used in the manufacturing process, such as coatings, adhesives and packaging materials, to bring down the costs of solar cells.

In June last year, the first set of grants were awarded to five research teams focused on increasing efficiency and innovation in photovoltaic technology, which enables the conversion of sunlight into electricity.

Besides the NUS teams, teams from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore University of Technology and Design and renewable energy company REC Solar Pte Ltd also received the research grants this year. 

This article was first published on July 26, 2014.
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