Making solar cells from blackberries! Solar Photovoltaics Workshop with Dr Richard Komp

Solar Photovoltaics Workshop with Dr Richard Komp at University of Leeds, November 2014

By Lena Kruckenberg

Few people can match the enthusiasm Dr. Richard Komp has brought to solar energy. For the past 30 years Richard has been promoting solar PV installations across the Global South and he has taught hundreds of workshops around the world.

I met Richard when conducting field research in a remote place in rural Nicaragua where he taught a group of young local technicians how to make solar panels from left-over cells and then in Managua where he assisted a social enterprise in designing solar PV systems for mobile phone towers, before he went off to work with groups in Honduras and Ghana.

We were then delighted to host Richard at the end of November 2014. His visit provided several opportunities to bring together staff and students interested in renewable energy for sustainable development. Supported by CCCEP, Energy Leeds and the Centre for Global Development (CGD), and with involvement of the Sustainability Action Group and RiDNet, we ran a workshop with Richard on how to make organic solar cells!

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Using blackberry juice and titanium dioxide (and several other components), a group of staff and students from four different faculties created Graetzel solar cells. We tried different methods and ingredients (figuring out that blackcurrants work just as well :-). This and Richards introductory talk gave plenty of food for thought and many of us discovered a new interests in the science behind solar PV.

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Most importantly, the workshop provided plenty of opportunities for exchange and networking! It now appears that there are a few new links emerging between PhD students working on sustainable energy across the university.

A big thank you to Richard and everybody involved for an inspiring workshop!