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Overview of Photovoltaic Solar Cell R&D Capability in Canada, 4th Edition (2009-2012)

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Authors: Dr. Yves Poissant, Natural Resources Canada
Dr. A.C. Vikis, Consultant

CETC number: 2013-125

Publication date: 2013-10-22


This report is the fourth of a series of reviews of the R&D capability in Canadian universities in the field of photovoltaic solar cells carried out by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), CanmetENERGY, located at Varennes, Quebec. The objective of these reviews, which began in 2004, is to highlight the activities done in this area in Canada, monitor the R, R&D investments and disseminate the information gathered in order to facilitate the creation of partnerships amongst the researchers, government, and industry.

Worldwide demand for environmentally clean and sustainable energy continues to spur renewable energy development programs, including PV solar to electrical energy conversion. During the period under review (FY09/10 through to FY11/12), Canadian photovoltaic R&D capability was for the most part funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) at a level of about $4 million per annum and was involved in a broad range of basis research (organic solar cells, dye sensitized solar cells, thin silicon devices, etc.). PV R&D is performed in about 20 Canadian universities, mostly in Ontario and Quebec, within various science (chemistry, physics, materials science) and engineering (physics, chemical, electrical, computer, information technology, etc.) departments. According to this review, the fraction of the university groups working in collaboration with a national or international manufacturing partner continues to increase. Also, solar cells in Canada is ample and diverse; and, as evidenced by the kind of research and the volume and quality of publications, the research is forefront and world-class.

In addition to NSERC funded R&D in Canadian universities, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is also involved in photovoltaic R&D through the NRC National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) in collaboration with the University of Alberta, and through project SUNRISE in collaboration with the University of Ottawa and a number of industrial partners. Also, Sustainable Development Technology Canada is funding several PV development & demonstration projects in cooperation with universities and Canadian industry.

The establishment by NSREC of the Photovoltaics Innovation Network at McMaster was a major boost to university R&D on photovoltaic devices, and eventually photovoltaic technology development in Canada. The new Network has improved the level of collaboration amongst researchers, as well as with industry, and is making significant R&D breakthroughs.

For more information about CanmetENERGY’s activities related to solar photovoltaic energy, visit the Solar Photovoltaic Energy section of the website.

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