Navigating the Challenges of Establishing a Competitive Organic Photovoltaic Industry in Europe

T. Kolbusch, H. Rooms, R. Reuscher

Keywords: OPV production technology


The current geopolitical and environmental challenges in Europe, including the urgency to achieve net-zero emissions and the energy supply uncertainties due to the conflict in Ukraine and tensions with China, have highlighted the critical need for energy independence and rapid expansion of renewable energy sources. This paper presents a strategic analysis of the potential shift in Europe's solar industry focus, from traditional silicon-based solar cells to innovative Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) and perovskites, as a response to the dependency on non-European sources for standard silicon solar cells. We propose the development of a new industry capacity for Roll-to-Roll (R2R) 3rd Generation photovoltaics, specifically OPV and perovskites, within Europe. This approach aims to establish a competitive and self-sufficient industry capable of producing the vast quantities of photovoltaic material necessary for the green hydrogen paradigm shift in Europe. The paper discusses the Horizon Europe project, Flex2Energy, which involves constructing a production facility equipped with an R2R coating line and back-end production for OPV modules in Thessaloniki.This research focuses on three key parameters essential for success in the emerging solar market: optimizing processes such as web handling, coating, and drying; the critical role of inline quality control; and balancing production with R&D operations. We offer insights into overcoming these challenges and detail the technological and operational strategies required to establish a robust and efficient production system. In conclusion, the paper emphasizes the imperative factors for creating a sustainable and innovative European approach to 3rd generation photovoltaics production, positioning Europe at the forefront of the global renewable energy sector.