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Power sail disruptive PV power array technology to enable economic viability of SPS

Programme Reference
Start Date
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Power sail disruptive PV power array technology to enable economic viability of SPS

The goal of the Powersail project is to demonstrate the potential of amorphous silicon (a-Si) deposited on ultralight space-grade polyimide for solar power satellites (SPS). State of the art solutions are III-V compound semiconductor triple junction-based PV modules, which are 100 times too expensive and one order of magnitude too heavy to build a competitive SPS with terrestrial microwave energy collection infrastructure. Despite its lower power conversion efficiency (PCE) than state-of-the-art multijunction solar cells, and even mainstream crystalline silicon (c-Si), a-Si for solar is a thin-film technology requiring minute amount of material and is adapted for low-cost large-area deposition, which is compatible with inexpensive/flexible substrates. Furthermore, a whole industrial platform has already been established for module fabrication. In the work performed during the Powersail project, two established technology materials and processes are merged into one fully integrated novel PV array architecture, combining space rated thin film Polyimides from NEXOLVE Holding Company LLC (NXLV) USA and thin film a-Si PV module technology from CSEM Switzerland. Very small ultra-lightweight demonstrator cells on polyimide have been demonstrated previously, but the demonstration of a laser interconnected solar module is still lacking to demonstrate the scalability of the technology to large areas. The final goal of the project is therefore to fabricate a medium area (10×10 cm2 ) ultra-lightweight laser processed demonstrator module. This will allow to assess the potential of this technology for SPS, in terms of W/kg performances. The simplicity of the laser process (litho-free) will potentially enable a cost reduction which is impossible to reach with competing technologies (c-Si or III-V)

Executive summary
Final presentation