GridEdge: Thin-film photovoltaic solar for the developing world


Crystalline silicon technologies have come a long way in proving the effectiveness of solar photovoltaics for both grid-connected and rural electrification environments. However, in developing economies the upfront cost of silicon-based systems limits their scope and usage. In addition, poor infrastructure to accommodate bulky, rigid solar cells can increase costs even more or limit off-grid applications.

The goal of the GridEdge program is to address many of the issues we find with current PV technologies in the developing world. The GridEdge program aims to develop a scalable solar cell and PV module architecture, a low-capex manufacturing process and equipment, and a go-to-market strategy that can be translated to further commercial development. In turn, this creates low-cost and highly scalable photovoltaic technology that can be used in developing and developed economies alike. The GridEdge program is highly comprehensive, with research thrusts in photovoltaic materials devices, manufacturing, and market analysis and including students, postdocs and research scientists from departments across MIT: EECS, DMSE, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, and the Sloan School of Management.

Current technical work is focusing on quantum dot and perovskite-based technologies and scalable manufacturing techniques such as spray coating, inkjet printing, and nanoimprint patterning.

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