Heraeus solutions for renewable energies

technology report online, June 2016

The world’s population is using more and more energy, but the supply of crude oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy is finite. The sun is a persistent source of power. Therefore, it is becoming more and more important to do the right thing for the environment by capturing and storing solar energy and to use renewable energies.

Heraeus has broad expertise and a number of innovative products for generating, converting, storing and distributing renewable energies. These include metallization pastes for the circuit paths on solar cells; sputtering targets for thin-film solar modules; conductive polymers for organic solar cells; light and heat solutions, as well as quartz glass products, for the production of solar cells; Porocarb® for lithium ion batteries; electrodes for fuel cells; catalysts for the electrolytic production of hydrogen; and power electronics for wind turbines.

50% in five years

Three questions to Andreas Liebheit, President Heraeus Photovoltaics

Andreas Liebheit, President Heraeus Photovoltaics
Andreas Liebheit, President Heraeus Photovoltaics

What is the future role of renewable energies?

Global demand for energy is on the rise – and expected to grow more than 60% by 2050. The global Paris Climate Conference in 2015 showed that renewable energies play a key role if the energy demands of the world’s population are to be met in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. Limiting global warming to 1.5-2 degrees is impossible without the nearly complete decarbonization of energy generation, that is, conversion to technologies that do not emit CO2. Renewable energy is competitive today and will become the most cost effective source of energy.

How much more can the effectiveness of solar cells still be improved?

Improving efficiency is the key driver in the photovoltaics market. At present, standard solar cells convert approximately 18% of sunlight into electrical energy. The current world record for prototypes is 22%, achieved with solar pastes from Heraeus. In five to ten years, we could have solar cells with a standard efficiency of 23 to 25%. We are working on a multilayer design, the Heraeus tandem solar cell, where we stack various material systems in a solar cell that can gather various colors or wavelengths of the sunlight, thereby generating even more energy. Heraeus innovation roadmap is fully focused on this and we are will be able to increase efficiency by at least 0.2% per year.

Which role plays China relating to the performance of renewable energies?

China has developed to the global driver for renewable energies. From technology to education, they are perfectly positioned to capitalize on the major trends that will drive the region for the next several decades. These include: Microgrids, smart electricity management and storage solutions, innovations to further drive efficiency of renewable energy systems and to make renewable energy applicable in global city centers. By combining these trends, Heraeus is convinced that the levelized costs of renewable energy will be able to decrease by 50% in 5-10 years.