01 January 2018 – 31 March 2021


The ultimate goal of REGENERATION is to replace current state of the art solar cells with advanced high-efficiency thin-film solar cells produced on reusable Ge wafers as Best Alternative Technology (BAT) for different market segments ranging from spacecraft to large-scale terrestrial exploitation in the built environment. Besides cost reduction, the fact that these thin-film cells are light-weight and flexible have important knock-on cost and design advantages for utilization in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).

The project will result in the development and market uptake of a radical cross-disciplinary innovation with the potential to reduce the use of critical raw material with virtually 100% in a growing application area. Simultaneously, the project contributes to the field of sustainable energy innovation by enabling the production of high-efficiency (>30%), flexible, thin-film solar cells to surpass the present generation wafer-based rigid Si solar modules with efficiencies <20%.

With regard to long-term benefit for Europe, an important aspect is that by reducing our demand for raw Ge material, we decrease Europe’s dependency on the non-sustainable raw material supply from China. That dependency contains both a financial and an environmental sustainability risk: from the past years we know that sudden unpredictable policies of China can lead to strong price increases of raw Ge, and on the other hand China’s production of Ge by burning coal is not sustainable. If we require less raw Ge for wafer production, then we can rely to a greater extent on non-Chinese sources that are more sustainable in the long term.

The solution (technology)

The research community will be challenged to develop innovative thin-film devices that previously could not be produced and discover new mechanisms (such as photon recycling in thin-film solar cells) that lead to enhanced performance of the thin-film devices over their wafer based counter parts.


  • Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands (Lead partner)
  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Germany
  • tf2 devices B.V., Netherlands
  • UMICORE NV, Belgium