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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T00584X/1
Title: Low-cost modular solar power system using Total Internal Photonic Absorption (TIPA)
Principal Investigator: Shirvani, Dr H
Other Investigators:
Butt, Dr J Sadeghi Esfahlani, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Organisation: Anglia Ruskin University
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 July 2019 Ends: 31 December 2020 Value (£): 99,420
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK has 90,000MW of electricity generation capacity compared to 4,000MW in Nigeria, 20 times more despite the UK having less than half the population [1]. Nigeria's national grid generates 4,500MW, peak electricity demand has risen to 14,882MW. Furthermore, only 54.3% of Nigeria's population is connected to the energy grid, whilst those connected to the grid experience power supply difficulties 60% of the time [2]. Ghana, despite having enough electricity to afford exporting to other countries, is also in an energy crisis due to unpredictable power supply to homes and industry [3].

The power supply issues experienced in these and other sub-Saharan countries exerts a significant brake on economic growth. According to the World Bank, electricity poses the second most important constraint to business activities in Ghana [4]. Renewable energies, in particular solar and hydro power, provide an extremely viable option to resolving power crises. But, despite the global growth in the solar energy market - solar can be considered on par for cost-per-kW with most other energy sources [5] - African countries continue to lag. While Africa has the best solar resource in the world, it contains less than 1% (1.92GW) of global installed solar capacity. Many African countries fail to recognise the viability of solar-power. For example, Kenya's energy regulatory body, in its "Kenya-Least-Cost-Power-Development-Plan", makes no provision for the generation of electricity. As a result, it is extremely difficult for large-scale solar projects to gain investments.

At the small-scale end of the market, adoption of solar-home-systems (SHSs) is restricted due to limited access to finance, awareness and access to technical support services. Although PV solar is now more attractive than ever before, its remains expensive for low income countries. While solar is cheap to run in the long-term, unfortunately, it's the set-up costs that hold back many African states from getting involved [6]. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are built from relatively expensive silicon based materials and shipping from overseas manufacturing, raises the costs even further.

Furthermore, PV solar panels have a modest panel efficiency of 22%, but must be installed at a particular angle of incidence to sunlight in order to achieve 22%, and require a relatively large surface area. These characteristics make it more difficult for practical installation in local markets, where specialist solar skills may be in short supply and limited outdoor space (e.g. roof) could be a problem, since domestic dwelling buildings tend to be smaller.

To address the aforementioned issues of high-cost, limited space and lack of skilled technical personnel, we will develop and bring to market TIPA - a low-cost modular solar power system based on Total Internal Photonic Absorption technology.


[1] www.edfenergy.com/future-energy/uk-energy

[2] Aliyu, 2013: Nigeria-electricity-crisis: Power-generation-capacity-expansion-&-enviro-ramifications.

[3] Adjapong, 2018: Dumsor: Energy-Crisis-In-Ghana,Stanford-University

[4] World-Bank, June-2013: Energizing-Economic-Growth-in-Ghana

[5] Clifford, 2016, Forbes: Watch-out, coal! Dubai-announces-plans-for-world's-lowest-cost-solar-plant

[6] Labordena, 2018: Sunny-days-and-solar-ways:How-Africa-must-and-should-plug-its-electricity-gap

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Organisation Website: http://www.anglia.ac.uk