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The University of Southampton

Solar Energy Laboratory

Our aim is interdisciplinary research into photovoltaic devices and systems, linking theory and experiment with applications. We have strong links with the Engineering Materials research group, the departments of Chemistry and Mathematical Sciences and Innos Ltd, in the area of silicon device fabrication.

We have conducted a number of national and international research projects lately, including the European Union SARA project, the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and the Supergen PV21 Consortium of six UK Universities.

Our research interests focus on hybrid organic/morganic solar cells, with activity comprising device fabrication, characterisation and modelling.  There is also active interest in fundamental studies and high efficiency solar cells.  Work has continued in the area of fluorescent energy collection systems, with emphasis on photonic aspects to enhance conversion efficiency.  Preliminary results indicate that the photon collection efficiency can be surprisingly high (over 90% of the theoretical maximum).  Light harvesting by energy transfer to silicon has been observed by time resolved fluorescence studies.

The solar group runs the STaR photovoltaic test facility, instrumental to the creation of Engineering Recommendation G77/1 for the connection of photovoltaic generators to the utility networks, and now acting as the UK certification centre.  The utility integration work continues with activity in the area of microgrids and applying extreme value theory to the design of stand-alone photovoltaic systems in tropical locations.

Our research has been funded by, among others, the Carbon Trust, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the European Commission, the European Space Agency. the Department of Trade and Industry, UK Research Councils, and the Ministry of Defence.

The principal areas of our work include:

We provide services to industry and the photovoltaic community using facilities which have helped create the current regulatory framework for photovoltaics in the UK.  Our courses and seminars have been adopted by UNESCO and the British Council.

STAR video
The STAR facility

Our research strengths

Thermal energy

Electrochemical engineering

Maritime energy

Electromechanical energy

Materials for energy

Energy management and control

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