The Sun is a wonderful source to cover our energy demand.
The University of Twente comprises a rich and diverse landscape in the field of solar energy across all faculties. One day, fossil fuels will be depleted, but the Sun continues to provide an enormous amount of energy. The Solar Centre is a Centre of Expertise aimed to bring together researchers to better connect interdisciplinary research between faculties, UT-wide education and (inter)national collaboration on the topic of solar energy.
We want to become an excellent academic partner in solar energy research and product development over the full value chain.
In one hour, Earth receives as much energy from the Sun as mankind consumes in a year. It is therefore inevitable that this very secure and inexhaustible source of energy will play an important role in the energy transition towards a close to zero-emission energy supply in 2050. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to explore how we can effectively convert solar irradiance to electricity, heat and fuels. At present, the most dominant solar energy technology is photovoltaics (PV). Thanks to efficiency enhancements and significant cost reductions, in the past decade the number of installed PV systems has been steadily growing with 20 to 40% per year, resulting in close to 1 terawatt peak (TWp) of cumulative installed power worldwide contributing about 5% to the global electricity demand. This happens at levelized costs of electricity far below the spot price of electricity in European grids. So far, the share of solar thermal systems and solar fuels in existing energy infrastructures has been limited, however, it is expected that these solar energy conversions will soon become more prominently available under the present energy policies and by technological advances.
UT topics in the field of solar energy are very diverse and have different embodiments. The aim of the UT action plan is a common approach that includes current UT themes embedded in faculties programmes and Shaping 2030 to shape society, create connections and shape individuals. The focus in the roadmap will be placed on the following innovative research themes:
- Materials science for solar energy conversion
- Smart system integration and optimization
- Designing improved product-service combinations