Peshawar UET develops low-cost solar panels

Published April 6, 2021
Dr Najeebullah discusses the project with his colleagues at a laboratory of the UET, Peshawar. — White Star
Dr Najeebullah discusses the project with his colleagues at a laboratory of the UET, Peshawar. — White Star

PESHAWAR: The Centre for Advanced Studies and Energy of the University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, has developed solar panels at half the price of the existing silicon ones with the help of international partners by using the third generation solar photovoltaic technology.

The lightweight and flexible panels will be formally unveiled this week, principal investigator of the project at the UET Dr Najeebullah told Dawn.

Prof Han of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, and Dr Toby Meyer of Solaronixmix, Switzerland, were also part of the initiative.

Dr Najeebullah, who has done PhD in material sciences from Cambridge University, said the project’s research phase began in 2014, while the prototype development of the third generation solar panels got under way at the UET’s Centre for Advanced Studies and Energy in 2019 with the financial support of the provincial government.

Initiative taken using modern technology and with the help of international partners

He said the centre was established in 2014with the support of USAID.

The principal investigator said the third generation solar photovoltaic panels would cost 50 per cent less than those made with the help of silicon photovoltaic technology mostly by the Chinese companies and sold in the country.

He said the third generation solar panels would cost less than the existing ones as the materials used in them were locally available and the manufacturing required lower temperature.

Dr Najeebullah said the solar panels in the market needed highly refined poured silicon with purity of 99.99999 per cent and processing temperature of 1100 and above degree centigrade.

“We replaced silicon with the naturally available metal halide provskitein our product, which will be produced at 450 degree centigrade,” he said.

He said Prof Han was working on the commercialisation of the emerging solar technology and was going to establish a 200MW unit in Huwan area of China.

Prof Hantold Dawn that he would love to work with ‘our friend’ Pakistan for technology transfer.

He urged the Chinese and Pakistani governments to promote technology transfer and allocate funds to commercialise the emerging solar technology under the multibillion dollars worth of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative.

Dr Najeebullah said Dr Toby Meyer, who had done PhD at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland, helped establish the prototyping lab in the UET.

“Dr Toby has been working on third generation solar PV since 1994. He’s a student of Prof Michael Graetzel, who is the pioneer of the third generation solar panels,” he said.

The principal investigator said four companies of the world, including Oxford PV in UK and Germany, Wonder Solar founded by Prof Han, Microquanta, GCL-nano, both in China, and other had so far established manufacturing units and tested their produces in the field and were about to provide their products for commercial purposes.

When contacted, adviser to the chief minister on higher education department Kamran Bangash said the government fully supported such innovations and therefore, extended the duration of that solar technology project for another year.

“Such interventions will generate revenues for universities and contribute to their self-sustainability,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2021


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