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9 August 2019

Oxford PV sprinting in race for first Perovskite production line

Perovskite specialist Oxford PV in the UK has announced the purchase of its first solar cell manufacturing equipment from Swiss company Meyer Burger, on the way to building out a specialist production line of 250 MW by the end of 2020.

The first purchase is a turnkey 100 MW silicon heterojunction solar cell line and then Oxford PV plans to start making solar panels in Perovskite as soon as it can, using its latest £65 million investment funds to kick off production.

It will follow this order up with another order for the perovskite part of the process, which will then be integrated with the silicon line so that it can make perovskite-on-silicon cells. It is in a race against time to be one of the first to market as about a dozen firms globally chase the Perovskite transformation of solar – which is expected to be one technology that will crash the pricing of solar panels. Right now is appears to be in the lead.

Oxford PV’s phased ordering of equipment will continue over the coming months. This will include the order of a second silicon heterojunction solar cell line and associated perovskite top cell production equipment. All of this equipment will be installed at Oxford PV’s industrial site in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany.

Back in March, Oxford PV announced detailed plans for volume production when it announced a framework deal with Meyer Burger and new investment. There are rivals in Japan, China, the US and Poland to name a few, including Microquanta Semiconductor and WonderSolar, all of which are planning to use Perovskite panels or Perovskite on silicon.

The original perovskite was Calcium Titanate, but its crystal structure has now been found in many other similar element combinations, which mimic its properties – typically today we are using lead or tin halide, for the light harvesting layer.

From a university curiosity around 2009, various Universities have pushed to bring the efficiency up  and today they have reached 28%, when Perovskite is used in tandem with Silicon, and this combination has been described as the “fastest-advancing solar technology to date” with the potential of even higher efficiencies at exceptionally low production costs, all on the verge of commercial production.

Frank Averdung, CEO at Oxford PV said, “The success of our funding round and the quality of the new investors, validates the commercial readiness of our technology. We now have the funds to move into manufacturing and accelerate market introduction. The production line we are installing in Germany, to manufacture perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cells, will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world. This is a significant moment for Oxford PV and our perovskite photovoltaic technology.”

The March round of investment included a significant new investment from China’s Goldwind, plus existing shareholders which already included Equinor and Legal & General Capital.