Ian Poh – Straits Times
Singapore. Singapore is aiming to develop its clean energy industry by exploring new ways to make solar cells.
A total of $11 million in research funds are being given out for five proposals by companies or research institutes.
For the first time, the focus is not simply on making the cells — which convert light into energy — out of the traditional silicon.
Instead, the funds will also go toward research into other materials, such as copper indium selenide.
Some believe the new technologies have the potential to match or even surpass the performance of silicon cells.
Said Economic Development Board managing director Beh Swan Gin on Wednesday: “The research topics for this latest competitive funding round represent the next step forward for Singapore in solar energy research.”
Solar cells are used in devices such as calculators, road signs in remote areas and even satellites orbiting Earth.
One recipient of the grant was Renewable Energy Corporation, a Norwegian company that runs a plant in Tuas. It proposed developing and producing a solar module based on a cell design that can absorb light more efficiently.
Said the company’s senior vice-president of operations and technology Erik Lokke Owre: “This new technology holds the promise of further cost reductions, in combination with an increase in module power.”
The awarding of $11 million in funding was announced on Wednesday by the Energy Innovation Program Office.
It is the fifth and final phase of a $57 million scheme launched in 2007 to develop the industry by kick-starting research and development. The previous four calls for proposals generally focused on mainstream silicon-based technology.
Beh said the additional focus on non-silicon materials this time would further diversify research capabilities in the clean energy field.
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times