‘Partnering for a new record’

ECN recently entered into an agreement with AMOLF on collaboration in the field of solar energy. This institute, which is located at the Science Park in the Watergraafsmeer district in Amsterdam, is involved in fundamental research on the behaviour of light, among other things. By combining fundamental and technological knowledge, the partners aim to design more efficient photovoltaic solar cells. And perhaps they can even add a record to their name.

AMOLF director Albert Polman and Arthur Weeber of ECN: ‘Together we can achieve results that we cannot realise separately.’ Photo: Peter van Aalst

Albert Polman, AMOLF director:

‘With or without top sector policy, it has always been our mission to deploy fundamental knowledge for the benefit of society. We are very successful in this endeavour and conduct much research in collaboration with businesses. However, in the field of solar cell research we are perceiving a relatively large distance to businesses. When we come up with a good idea, it is quite difficult for us to assess whether and how this idea could be deployed in an industrial process. These ideas often lack follow-up. ECN, on the other hand, knows the industry quite well. We hope that by collaborating with ECN, we will be able to market the valuable insights from our lab more successfully in industry.

‘Together, we will engage in brainstorming, but also conduct experiments. Light is our line of business. Learning more about light is important for the latest generation of solar cells and we are eager to contribute to sustainable energy production. But we do not have our own lab to produce solar cells, nor do we have the intention to set up such a lab. Instead, we prefer to look for the best partner that produces solar cells. There is only one such partner in the Netherlands: ECN. In fact, we have known for ten years that we are working on the same thing. We recently made contact and, as it turns out, we complement each other so well that we want to shape our collaboration more seriously.’

‘Over the last two years, we have been engaged in two-weekly work meetings. I am surprised by the top quality of the equipment at ECN. That is good for us. We have noticed that much more energy is being put in adjusting solar cells for our research. We are truly good partners who understand and also complement each other. Our goals are ambitious, but I believe we can accomplish many things together.’

Arthur Weeber, senior manager solar energy, ECN:

‘Collaborating with AMOLF enables us to expand our research area. We will now be involved in the latest insights from fundamental research from the very beginning. AMOLF is an international top institute that we should be proud of in the Netherlands. It is an honour to collaborate with them.’

AMOLF is involved in pioneering research in the field of optimal light capture for high-efficiency solar cells. Together, we are looking into the meaning of their findings for industry. ECN has excellent equipment, including an extensive pilot line for solar cell and module manufacturing and a laboratory that is especially equipped to measure the features of solar cells and modules.’

‘Thanks to the collaboration between the fundamental researchers at AMOLF and the deployment oriented technologists at ECN, we can ensure swift transfer of technology to manufacturers of solar cells and equipment for the production of solar cells in the Netherlands.  This lowers the cost of solar power rapidly and makes it widely available as a clean source of energy!’