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PA - C8 - PHY661B : Photovoltaic Technologies in Industry (PV Ind)

Domaine > Physique.


Eligibility/Pre- requisites 

Theoretical course on photovoltaics (Physics of Solar Cell Devices or equivalent) 

Learning outcomes 

his course makes the link between the fundamental physics of photovoltaic devices and the practical reality of selling PV-generated kWh. It is composed of two lectures (given by our industrial partners from Total) and a heavy laboratory component giving students the opportunity to fabricate and test photovoltaic devices in a research environment. After taking this course, the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate experimental familiarity with critical elements of photovoltaic device fabrication or advanced material/device characterization

  • Identify, use and weight the physical parameters in a photovoltaic system and critical output metrics

  • Describe the industrial steps to produce photovoltaics modules

  • Identify usage of photovoltaics in appropriate applications

  • Have a global vision of the photovoltaics market, value chain and main players

  • Quantitatively evaluate a PV system costs and the PV electricity costs

  • Take into account safety

    Carry scientific messages on environmental impacts of photovoltaic 

Course main content 


- Overview of laboratory technologies and specialization selection (2hrs)

Three full-day laboratory sessions

(8 hours each, additional sessions organized ad-hoc)

Students focus on one of six topics concerning PV technologies (subjects may change each year)

  • -  Amorphous / microcrystalline silicon (LPICM)

  • -  Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide (IrDEP)

  • -  Organic Bulk-Heterojunction Solar Cells (LPICM)

  • -  Perovskiite Solar Cells (LPICM)

  • -  Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (IrDEP)

  • -  Crystalline Silicon Heterojunction Solar Cells (LPICM)

  • -  Advanced characterization techniques (LGEP)

    Industrial Lecture I: PV industry, market and economy

The photovoltaic industry – an overview

- Historical development of PV, Applications, Technology, Markets / economy

Reminder of basics and metrics of PV

- PV systems, efficiency and Watt peak, other physical parameters, Performance: cells to module, Sun and intermittency

Snapshot of current industry and market

- Market and trends, Actors : location, technology, structure

- An idea of current costs and performances 

Industrial production of PV

- Production line, Silicon, Ingot, Wafer, Cells, Modules,
- Thin films (TF-Si, CdTe, CIGS), III-V, OPV, DSC
Production management, purchasing
- Norms and certifications, Structure of costs in production, Financing / capitalization,

Main actors

Electricity production with PV projects

-  PV system, Structure, type, space, Producible : management of losses, simulation, Watt peak to kWh to €, Project development

-  Structure of costs, Levelized Cost of Electricty (LCOE), Economical schemes / Finances, Grid parity, FiT, Portfolio, Tax credit / subsidies, Self-consumption, Main actors 


-  Industrial safety, Installation safety, Environmental impact of PV 

Industrial Lecture II: Industrial R&D programs and innovation

1. Introduction: Research & Development vs Innovation

a. R&D as a segment of an industrial activity
b. Innovation as a state of mind in a Company
c. Disruptive innovation: ‘what (could) make great companies fail? 

2. Research & Development in Solar PV: several ten years of progress in cell efficiency

a. NREL compilation of hero (certified) cells:
b. Outstanding industrial (and R&D) players: who drives performance up?
c. Top ten research centers around the world 

3. Different PV technologies addressing different markets: State-of-the-art / challenges / perspectives

a. Crystalline Si: an old lady? (including purification/ingoting/wafering/cell conversion)

i. mc-Si

ii. c-Si

iii. Alternative technologies: ribbons, smart-cutting technologies... 

b. Thin films:

i. CdTe

ii. a-Si, pm-Si, μc-Si, pc-Si...

iii. CI(G)S & CZTS

c. Organic / hybrids

i. Printed polymers: bilayer, bulk heterojunction

ii. Small molecules: evaporation or printing technologies? 

iii. Dye sensitized structures

d. III-V semiconductors:

i. Single-junctions

ii. Multijunction

e. The nano and quantum tool box: 

i. Nano wires

ii. Quantum dots

iii. Intermediate band structures

4. Transverse activities: a ‘must’ to address the complete value chain:

a. Modules and systems

b. Reverse engineering

5. Specific issues to PV industry as seen from R&D:

a. Raw materials
b. Time to market: from theoretical concept to lab device... to industry and market

c. Industrial transfer: scale-up, control control control, stage-gate procedures
d. R&D as a support to production 

Environmental and EHS issues 

Examination and requirements for final grade 

Students are evaluated on their laboratory work through a written report, an oral presentation, and the evaluation of the student’s work habits during the laboratory sessions Students are evaluated on the economic analysis section through a written test 

Coordinator Instructors 

Erik JOHNSON, Ecole polytechnique


Langue du cours : Anglais

Credits ECTS : 4

Format des notes

Numérique sur 20

Littérale/grade réduit

Pour les étudiants du diplôme Energy Environment : Science Technology & Management

Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
    L'UE est acquise si note finale transposée >= C
    • Crédits ECTS acquis : 4 ECTS

    La note obtenue rentre dans le calcul de votre GPA.

    Pour les étudiants du diplôme Renewable Energy, Science and Technology

    Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
      L'UE est acquise si note finale transposée >= C
      • Crédits ECTS acquis : 4 ECTS

      Pour les étudiants du diplôme Echanges PEI

      Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
        L'UE est acquise si note finale transposée >= C
        • Crédits ECTS acquis : 4 ECTS
        Veuillez patienter