The module is over 3 metres in length and approximately 1 square metre in area.

An important breakthrough has been achieved at Tata Steel’s Shotton site in North Wales, where a development partnership between Tata Steel and Dyesol has produced the world’s largest dye sensitised photovoltaic module. The module is over 3 metres in length and approximately 1 square metre in area and represents an important step in the development of large-scale micro energy generation capability within the infrastructure of buildings.

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Creation of the module has shown the potential, using continuous printing and coating processes, for scaling up the production of steel strips onto which a dye sensitised photovoltaic coating has been printed. Produced as a single length of coated steel rather than separate cells connected together, the breakthrough brings closer to commercial realisation the two companies’ ambitions to develop a manufacturing process that can produce long roofing panels with an integrated dye sensitised photovoltaic function.

Paul Bates, Operations Manager of the Tata Steel Colors PV Accelerator, commented: “The Tata Steel and Dyesol team has worked hard to translate laboratory concepts to pilot-line scale, and has successfully produced hundreds of metres of printed steel and polymer film that go into our demonstration product.”

Dr. Mikael Khan, Lead Scientist of Dyesol UK Ltd, commented: “This module demonstrates the feasibility of a continuously printed dye sensitised product. The materials and processes we have created move the process from the production of single cells into the continuous production, from rolls, of lengths of finished modules that would be ideal for roofing applications.”

Dye sensitised photovoltaic modules have unique performance characteristics, being particularly tolerant of lower light levels and temperature variations, providing benefits in real-world conditions. Developing the ability to print the PV coating directly onto steel roof cladding would enable the modules to be produced in large volumes cost effectively and integrated into building envelopes.

Following the successful completion of the first three years of their joint development project in June this year, Tata Steel and Dyesol recently announced that they will be increasing the number of personnel from 30 to 50 as the project moves into the pre-industrialisation phase.

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