Tallinn University of Technology

How can we use solar technology to increase the importance of renewable energy and reduce CO2 emissions? The RENEW-PV Action of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), led by TalTech and featuring over 150 participants from 40 countries, aims to tackle this issue. 

Nicolae Spalatu
Nicolae Spalatu, Senior Researcher of the Laboratory of Thin Film Chemical Technologies of TalTech

‘We can expect even more new participants to join, despite not setting a specific goal for the number of countries in the network,’ explains Nicolae Spalatu, Senior Researcher of the Laboratory of Thin Film Chemical Technologies of TalTech. ‘Naturally, having 40 countries participate is exciting.’

What is the RENEW-PV Action? The European Green Deal directives endorse the development of new renewable energy concepts with the main conditions being that the used materials must have a low environmental impact and low greenhouse gas emissions. One way to achieve this is to accelerate new thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technologies entering the market and increase the prominence of the European solar energy sector globally. TalTech is the head coordinator of this network.

Green PV technologies have a bright future ahead of them

The more scientists and organisations cooperate and the more countries support the development of solar energy and condemn environmentally harmful production, the more confident humankind can be about its future. According to Spalatu, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association has set ambitious goals – for example, the PV industry could account for 25% of the power market by 2030. The European strategic plan for research and innovation stipulates a 55% reduction in the net amount of greenhouse gas emissions by the same year.

According to Spalatu, achieving the objective of creating the network required by the RENEW-PV Action mainly requires the consolidation of research in this field. The plans foresees the establishment of a well-functioning network of laboratories and experts which supports the dissemination of sectoral knowledge and efficient cooperation simultaneously. Another important objective for creating a network is preparing a new generation of young scientists for the PV technology sector. ‘We would like to see a greater proportion of female scientists,’ Spalatu emphasised. In this instance, there is a good track record – the project includes an almost equal number of men and women (51% and 49%, respectively).

Scientific achievements must reach industry, and from there, the general public – for this reason, eight industrial companies active in the sector have been included in the project.

In conclusion, RENEW-PV connects leading scientists and companies of Europe and the world, stimulates further global scientific development and cooperation, and supports the adoption of environmentally friendly and high-quality new thin-film PV technologies. The immediate objective is top-level research, but also supporting the careers of early-stage researchers and doctoral students by integrating the network, trainings, mentoring, and sectoral research. As mentioned above, COST also considers it important to establish new jobs in the PV industry in line with the requirements of the green economy. In the long run, this should lead to new patents and innovative companies active by the universities and research institutions in the next few years.

Which countries participate in the project?

In addition to Estonia, other COST countries which have joined the RENEW-PV Action CA21148 are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK, as well as Slovenia, Belgium, and Serbia. International partners include the US, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Uzbekistan. Among the neighbours of the COST countries, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Georgia also want to contribute.

Detailed information about the activity and projects of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology is available HERE. The Head of the Laboratory of Thin Film Chemical Technologies of TalTech is Tenured Associate Professor Ilona Oja Acik, who is an esteemed scientist.