News Release

KIER Accelerates Carbon-Neutral Technological Innovation through International Collaboration with Horizon Europe

Global cooperation is expected to strengthen overall clean energy technologies, including hydrogen, secondary batteries, and catalysts.

Meeting Announcement

National Research Council of Science & Technology

SOLMATES in Seminar Room


SOLMATES in Seminar Room

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The Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) promotes active collaborations with prominent European institutions, including leading 'Research & Technology Organisations (RTO), prestigious universities, and small & medium-sized enterprises (SME). KIER has consistently stressed the importance of international collaborations in developing evolving and advanced green technologies. As a consequence, the consortium entitled "Scalable High-power Output and Low-Cost MAde-to-measure Tandem Solar Modules Enabling Specialized PV Applications (SOLMATES)", in which KIER participated and worked as a partner with 13 other collaborators was selected for a Horizon Europe project (Horizon call CL5-2022-D3-03-05). 'Horizon Europe' is the EU's key funding programme for research and innovation. It tackles climate change, helps to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

The consortium consists of 3 RTOs including the 'Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialian und Energie' (HZB; Helmholtz Center in Berlin for Materials and Energy) and the 'Nederlandse organisatie voor Toegepast-Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek' (TNO; Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), leading research institutes in the field of energy technology, 5 universities including the Universität Innsbruck (project coordinator) and 6 SMEs. The SOLMATES initiative launched in December 2023 held an initial "kick-off" strategic research meeting on January 17-18, 2024, in Innsbruck, Austria.

The initiative is spearheaded by the consortium, with the current aim to engineer light-weight flexible tandem solar cells capable of functioning in various applications with superior efficiency compared to commonly used single-junction solar cells.

SOLMATES researchers aim to boost efficiency by making flexible perovskite-CIGS thin-film solar devices. In the realm of perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells, a few prominent research institutions including HZB have recorded efficiencies exceeding 30%. Such high efficiency, however, has never been achieved with flexible solar cells. High expectations are now placed on SOLMATES for improved solar cell technology.

KIER has world-class solar cell technologies not only for CIGS but also for perovskite thin-film devices. KIER was invited to join the consortium based on its research achievements, which published in several feature articles in prominent media outlets. It has also achieved high efficiencies of 24.5% with 4-terminal perovskite-CIGS tandem solar cells* and of 22.8% with flexible perovskite-CIGS 2-terminal tandem solar cells**.
*H. Tran et al. "Triple-halide wide-bandgap perovskites tailored via facile organic halide treatment for high-performance perovskite/Cu(In,Ga)Se2 tandem solar cells", Chemical Engineering Journal, 476, 146825, Nov. 2023
**I. Jeong et al. Presented at The 6th International conference on perovskite solar cells and optoelectronics (PSCO-23), Sep. 2023, Oxford, UK

Moreover, KIER and HZB have been actively coworking to develop light-weight solar cells in the last decade through personnel exchanges and joint authorship of academic papers. KIER, together with HZB, a key partner organization in SOLMATES, participates in advancing bottom device technology for flexible tandem solar cells.

Dr. Chang-keun Yi, President of KIER, expects that KIER will also forge partnerships with other leading European research institutes akin to HZB via the Horizon Europe program, exploring alternative avenues of energy research, further demonstrating the institutes' commitment to carbon neutrality. For example, initial discussions to broaden their partnership with HZB to include other energy technology fields such as hydrogen, energy storage, and catalysts have already begun.

Dr. Jihye Gwak, Head of the Photovoltaics Research Department at KIER, mentions that the Ministry of Science and ICT of the Republic of Korea adopted such technology as a critical strategic technology in the roadmap of '2050 carbon neutrality technology innovation' in response to significant challenges such as existing technological limitations and the need for application diversification. As such, this collaboration aims to innovate solar technology, resulting in novel applications in civil, defense, space, and aerospace industries and to expand the next-generation solar cell market worldwide.

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