In the air, on sea and on land: when will everything become solar?

In this presentation, we will first review the global current trends in the photovoltaics research and market. This includes mainstream crystalline silicon with the emergence of so-called passivating contact structures, and recent advances in the field of multi-junction on silicon. In particular, the newest records obtained for III-V devices on Si (expensive) and perovskite cells on Si (potentially low cost) will be presented. We will show that near-term costs of PV modules below 0.25 cts/Wp are (~50$/m2 !) at > 20% efficiency are well within reach, as discuss the challenges for multi-junction, or competing technologies, to enter the market. Finally we’ll show how improved modules architecture and system design, will allow a further lowering of the costs of solar electricity to values, “close to zero”, still unthinkable two decades ago. 

The progress in PV enables multiple new application of photovoltaics. In the second part, we will review some of the spectacular developments taking place in the world of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Switzerland, where citizens voted for an energy transition, has a leading position in this field, with spectacular examples of buildings fully clad with invisible (but still relatively efficient) modules. We will argue that “transformative approaches” in which c-Si cells are hidden behind front colors or even white filters, will enable a potential 40% market growth in the coming decade. Finally, we will review the growing new possible application of PV in mobility (cars, tracks, boats), in the air (planes, drones), and on the ground (deployable PV, solar roads, solar islands).


Christophe Ballif received his Ph.D. degree in physics in 1998 in Lausanne, Switzerland. After Stays at NREL (USA), Fraunhofer ISE (Germany) and EMPA (Switzerland), he became Full Professor in 2004 with the Institute of Micro Engineering, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, directing the Photovoltaics and Thin-Film Electronics Laboratory.  In 2009, the Institute became part of EPFL. Since 2013, he has also been the Director of the PV-Center within CSEM, Neuchâtel, an RTO specialized in industrial research and technology transfer. His research interests include materials for PV, high-efficiency c-Si solar cells and silicon heterojunction cells, multi-junction solar cells, module technology, building integrated photovoltaics, and optimized energy systems. Prof. Ballif authored or co-authored over 400 scientific and technical papers, as well as a number of Patents. In 2016, he was granted the prestigious Becquerel award for his contribution to the field of Photovoltaics.

Date & time

12–1pm 22 June 2018


Room:Design Studio

External speakers

Christophe Ballif

Event series


02 6125 8807

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