Joint project "Next generation photovoltaics"


According to the energy strategy 2050 of the Swiss government, photovoltaics (PV) should become a major electricity source with an annual production of up to 11 TWh by 2050. This corresponds to peak power in the range of 9 to 12 GWp.

Project description (ongoing research project)

The widespread use of photovoltaics in Switzerland faces three major challenges: The amount of space available for PV is considerable, but nevertheless limited. The first challenge is therefore to install enough PV without creating a repulsion effect in the population due to wide coverage of the landscape or the use of non-aesthetic roof-mounted PV modules. The global cost of solar electricity needs to be further reduced in order to facilitate acceptance from industrial and political stakeholders and to compete with fossil fuels. The global environmental impact of PV also needs to be reduced. The management of PV electricity at the level of 10 GWp creates new challenges, both in intraday and inter-seasonal supply. This will impact the grid, and will require new schemes for managing a reliable electricity supply.


The major goal of the project is to set up the required technology blocks for tomorrow’s photovoltaics modules, façades and roofs, and use of solar power. The project encompasses the entire chain from innovative materials and next generation solar cells through to solar buildings and use of solar power. The main focus is on the following three areas:

  1. Development of innovative PV materials and interfaces, which can be implemented in multi-junction solar cells combining thin films with each other or with a crystalline silicon cell. Such combinations have a realistic potential for reaching more than 30 percent efficiency and can be achieved through a combination of technologies developed by the individual research groups in Switzerland active in areas of the project.
  2. Use of such materials for innovative, multifunctional architectural elements with a focus on semi-transparency for glazing and façades, as well as on ultrahigh efficiency modules for reduced space requirements. These are key elements for the Swiss situation and other major markets.
  3. Quantification of all environmental aspects of the products, consideration of social aspects, development of cost and market penetration roadmap, including scenarios for the use of solar power.


This project will demonstrate to the public that PV can play a significant role in the energy transition at an affordable price. It will respond directly to the requirement of households, companies, cantons, the federal government and energy producers to have access to products with better performance levels, a high environmental standard, and solutions for integration into buildings as well as the grid.

Original title

PV2050: Novel PV technologies for optimum space usage and efficient electricity production

Principal Investigators

Leader of the joint project

  • Prof. Christophe Ballif, Institut de Microtechnique, EPFL Neuchâtel

Deputy leader of the joint project

  • Dr. Aïcha Hessler-Wyser, Laboratoire de photovoltaïque et couches minces électroniques, EPF Lausanne


The joint project consists of six research projects

PV2050: Novel materials and interfaces for advanced photovoltaic devices

  • Prof. Frank Nüesch, Departement Moderne Materialien, ihre Oberfläche und Grenzflächen, EMPA Dübendorf; Prof. Christophe Ballif, Prof. Michael Grätzel, Prof. Ayodhya Tiwari

PV2050: Building blocks for Next Generation Multi-Junction Solar Cells

  • Prof. Christophe Ballif, Institut de Microtechnique, EPFL Neuchâtel; Prof. Michael Gätzel, Prof. Ayodhya Tiwari

PV2050: Novel Generation Perovskite Devices

  • Prof. Michael Grätzel, Laboratoire de photonique et interfaces, EPF Lausanne; Dr. Jun-Ho Yum, Prof. Ullrich Steiner

PV2050: Photovoltaics into the built environment: from semi-transparent PV glazing to high efficiency roof integrated solutions

  • Dr. Laure-Emmanuelle Perret-Aebi, Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique SA, Neuchâtel; Prof. Emmanuel Rey

PV2050: Simulation and characterization: from cells to systems

  • Dr. Matthias Schmid, Institute for Computational Physics, ZHAW Winterthur; Dr. Mohammed Zakeeruddin Shaik, Prof. Christophe Ballif, Prof. Ayodhya Tiwari

PV2050: Sustainability, market deployment and interaction to the grid – the impacts of advanced photovoltaic solutions

  • Prof. Bettina Furrer, Institut für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, ZHAW Winterthur; Prof. Martina Hirayama-Bumm



Further information on this content


Prof. Christophe Ballif Institut de Microtechnique EPFL - STI - IMT 2000 Neuchâtel +41 32 718 33 36

Products of the project