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Perovskite solar cell breakthrough at University of Sheffield

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, August 2014

The University of Sheffield has announced that scientists from the Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Chemical and Biological Engineering are the first to fabricate perovskite solar cells using a spray-painting process – a discovery that could help cut the cost of solar power generation.

Efficient organometal halide perovskite based photovoltaics were first demonstrated in 2012. Perovskite combines high efficiency with low materials costs and combined with spray-painting - which has previously been used to produce solar cells using organic semiconductors - a process has been developed to use peroskites in high volume manufacturing.

The Perovskite spray-painting techniques waste very little of the perovskite material and can be scaled to high volume manufacturing – similar to applying paint to cars and graphic printing. According to lead researcher, Professor David Lidzey:

“This class of material offers the potential to combine the high performance of mature solar cell technologies with the low embedded energy costs of production of organic photovoltaics.”

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EU Funding for Cleantech is Changing

European funding for technology commercialisation is changing with the European Commission's first series of calls for projects under Horizon 2020, the European Union's new €77 billion research and innovation programme, at the start of 2014.

Horizon 2020 is the successor to the EU's FP7 funding programme. However, there are some significant changes from the previous programme - notably a focus on funding for SMEs.

Throughout the collaborative calls of Horizon 2020, there is a greater focus on funding for technologies which are close to market than its predecessor FP7; there is a stronger focus on innovation, rather than research; and the funding programme also benefits from a streamlined review and contract negotiation process compared to FP7.

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NEW TO HORIZON 2020: THE SME INSTRUMENT

These new aspects of the EU funding are particularly highlighted in the new SME Instrument. Indeed, the EC has stated its ambition to make Horizon 2020 the most SME-friendly EU support programme in history, releasing a budget of €8.65 billion between 2014 and 2020 dedicated soley to innovation at SMEs. The instrument aims to fund innovation at SMEs that would otherwise be unlikely to come to the fore - and it aims to facilitate this through a simplified and accelerated application process.

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Cleantech in 2014: Our Predictions for the Year

We reflect on the growing pains which cleantech has suffered and look forward to 2014 (and beyond) when we expect to see cleantech mature. Look out for 'smart cleantech' and 'industrial cleantech'!

By Anne McIvor

A look back at Cleantech 1.0

First generation clean technologies, let’s call them Cleantech 1.0, centered around alternative energy: innovations replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable resources such as wind, solar, biogas, wave and tidal power for electricity – and biofuel replacements for liquid transport fuels.

The biofuel industry suffered a backlash from the ‘food / fuel’ debate, but in the power industry, cleantech has grown up fast. Within less than a decade we’ve experienced a revolution in renewable energy generation surpassing expectations.

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Cleantech To Rebound in 2014?

First published on the Cleantech Investor website, 9th December 2013

Canadian research firm Kachan & Co has published its predictions for the cleantech industry in 2014. It anticipates a broad cleantech recovery, the rise of crowdfunding, risk to EV growth rates and surprises in rare earth element industry profits.

Gradual recovery in 2014?

Kachan finds parallels between the cleantech wave and other technology booms of the last 50 years, and a number of reasons for optimism when comparing the cycles. A recent downturn in venture capital investing in cleantech becomes less threatening, Kachan asserts, when viewed in the historical context of how venture capital always spikes early in emerging categories, later to be augmented with other sources of capital.

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No “nuclear winter” in cleantech (Winners of the National Business Plan Competition)

14 June 2013

by Andrew Mitchell of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

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Venture Capital is broken – at least according to a report last year by the Kauffman Foundation. This was certainly a talking point in Washington DC at the US Department of Energy’s National Business Plan Competition on 12 June 2013. Indeed, someone even dared to mention a “cleantech nuclear winter”. The facts are that in all sectors since 1997 less cash has been returned to investors than they originally invested – which makes negative interest rates from the European Central Bank seem not so insane!

But go figure. If I had a big enough bag of money I would invest in each one of the six finalists pitching at the US Department of Energy’s National Business Plan Competition. With absolute confidence that at least one of them would return all the money back, and more. Add to this the confidence from Andrew Chung at Khosla Ventures that corporate venturing is going to save cleantech, there is no nuclear winter and, as David Danielson said, the world has passed the 400ppm CO2 milestone, so we have to make this work.

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Clean Energy Ethnocentrism? It’s no joke.

Wednesday, June 12th 2013.

altAndrew Mitchell of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation reports for Cleantech Investor on his experiences as the only non US pitch judge of the US DoE National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.

An Australian activist, a Scottish banker and an American serial entrepreneur walk into a bar; and start-up a successful global clean energy venture. No joke. Danny Kennedy, former Greenpeace activist, and Founder & President of Sungevity, brought into focus a key insight from the second annual US Department of Energy National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.

I am back in Washington DC for a second year to participate in the 'Investor Connect' element of this prestigious competition, which was kicked off yesterday by US Secretary of Energy, Dr Ernest Moniz, with a rallying call for entrepreneurs to deliver on the dual challenges of a clean energy future and jobs, driving further economic recovery for the United States.

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