The ‘Advancing the efficiency and production of excitonic solar cells’ project will focus on the development of materials, structures, processing and photovoltaic panel engineering of excitonic solar cells – a class of non-conventional solar cell based on new types of materials. It will build on existing research in both the UK and India to develop cheaper and higher volume solar cell manufacture. RCUK and DST have awarded GBP2.5m each for this project.

The second project, ‘Stability and performance of photovoltaics’ will focus on improving materials supply and developing better designs to create cheaper and more efficient devices than current solar cells. RCUK and DST have awarded GBP2.4m each for this project.

The solar energy projects form part of the RCUK Energy program led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Dr Neil Bateman, energy portfolio manager of EPSRC, said: “These projects represent a new and exciting collaboration between some of the leading photovoltaics researchers in the UK and India. The research is targeted to push the science of solar energy towards cheaper, more reliable and sustainable electricity production in a wide variety of settings.”

Pat McFadden, UK Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “Our historic ties and close collaboration in many fields mean the UK and India are natural partners of choice in science, technology and innovation. This major collaboration plays to our strengths, and will maximise our potential to lead the world in high-quality, low-cost solar cell technology.

“As well as helping the UK to meet its 2020 goals, it will complement India’s ambitious plans to deploy 20 million solar lighting systems to 10,000 villages and hamlets currently without access to grid electricity. This will spur advances in healthcare, education and productivity through the creation of new jobs.”