SUNRISE biannual solar energy symposium in Oxford

SUNRISE has recently passed its second birthday as a GCRF project, and in the same month we held our fourth biannual conference! The symposium was hosted this time at the University of Oxford by Professor Henry Snaith. We were joined as usual by several of our partners across India and the UK, but this time with the addition of a new partner from Mexico. With some new funding from GCRF through their innovation and commercialisation programme, our network has recently expanded to formally include partners from Mexico, South Africa, and Kazakhstan. This conference was the first stage of becoming an international collaboration beyond India and the UK.

Opening the first day of talks our project officer Ellie Gilvin gave some background on EPSRC engagement in GCRF and lessons learned so far from working with ODA projects: most importantly the necessity of strong research partnerships. Dr Pratishtha Pandey from the Department for Science and Technology India (DST) then related how DST are supporting Indian science and technology, highlighting their schemes for advancing women in science. After Ellie’s and Pratishtha’s presentations, throughout the morning and afternoon we had several scientific talks on perovskites and other solar devices: Prof Sir Richard Friend (University of Cambridge), Prof Paul Meredith (Swansea University), Prof Satish Ogale (IISER Pune), Prof Michael Walls (Loughborough University), Dr Cecile Charbonneau (Swansea University), Dr Sandeep Pathak (IIT Delhi), Prof Henry Snaith (University of Oxford), Prof K.S. Narayan (JNCASR), and Dr Harjit Singh (Brunel University) all gave fascinating insights into their research. These presentations were interspersed with more commercial and industry focused talks from Arunavo Mukerjee (Tata Cleantech Capital), Dr Chris Case (Oxford PV), and Daniel Pillai (BIPVCo). Particularly exciting was the talk from Dr Chris Case who revealed that Oxford PV are producing 28% efficiency tandem solar cells with the support of research from Henry Snaith’s group at Oxford.

At the end of a jam-packed first day we gathered for a meal in the evening.

The second day was occupied by our Advisory Board meeting and work package presentations and discussions. These short presentations are an opportunity for our researchers to share their progress with one another and to look for new collaborations within the network.

Our researchers’ presentations on the third day were more focused on the delivery aspect of the project. From Dr Chithambararaj on IISC Bangalore‘s development of a solar-powered micro-grid to social scientist Carol Maddock‘s (Swansea University) talk on piloting community involvement techniques in a rural Indian village, they reflected the wide range of expertise the SUNRISE network brings together. We also heard from Prof Gerko Oskam from CINVESTAV, Merida, our key Mexican partner, who has been collaborating with local businesses to screen-print solar cells.

To finish the conference were the five minute PhD flash-talks. They were all excellent as always, but winning the prize for best talk was Tauheed Mohammad (IIT Delhi), with a cash prize sponsored by NSG. It was also announced that the two prizes for best posters, sponsored by Oxford PV, went to Covadonga Pardo Sanchez (LSBU) and Sumukh Purohit (JNCASR). Congratulations to them all!

Two years and four symposiums into the project we continue to go from strength to strength, with the recent addition of new funding and partners bringing us closer to achieving our goals. The next two years will be exciting so keep an eye out for what comes next!