Two major energy companies Total and GDF Suez, and solar cells manufacturing subsidiary Photovoltech, have joined a programme to create the next generation crystalline silicon solar cells in a bid to reduce solar costs.

The two energy giants have joined the IMEC industrial affiliation programme (IIAP) to create next generation crystalline silicon solar cells.

IMEC, which concentrates on research into nanoelectronics and nanotechnology, will work with the companies to sharply reduce silicon use and increase the efficiency of solar cells, according to a statement by Total.

IMEC will set up a research ecosystem with the aim of creating ‘innovative processes to fabricate the next generation of silicon solar cells’.

Researchers from energy companies, solar cell manufacturers and material and equipment suppliers will work together with IMEC’s solar experts on developing advanced processes before testing them on a semi-industrial pilot line.

President and CEO at IMEC, Luc Van den Hove, said: “This agreement shows the importance of our research for the global energy market. By 2025 at least 20% from the worldwide energy supply will come from renewables.

“Solar energy will ensure at least 10% of the total electricity supply, but to achieve this, we need to join forces to strongly reduce the cost of solar technology.”