Get a coffee with (the) SPHINX: Jacques Levrat – CSEM

I have been working at the Sustainable Energy Center in CSEM since its establishment in 2013. Over the past decade, my active involvement in the field of photovoltaics (PV) has allowed me to delve into various aspects, including solar cell fabrication, metrology for PV devices, life cycle assessment, and the design/simulation of cells, modules, and systems.

Currently, my focus has shifted to project acquisition and management. In the SPHINX project, I wear two hats: as the work package leader for WP3, overseeing product developments, and as the technical coordinator. These dual roles provide me with a precise understanding of critical developments and opportunities for the whole project.

What was your original motivation to become a researcher/project manager?
As a researcher and project manager in the Sustainable Energy Center in CSEM, my original motivation stems from the fascinating challenges within the solar energy domain. The context of Chinese domination in this field adds an extra layer of complexity, making it an exciting arena to work in. My drive comes from pushing innovation and enhancing competitiveness for European companies. Projects like SPHINX exemplify disruptive innovation, fostering local synergies and driving forward innovative products.

What is your (main) research area today?
My primary focus centers around solar module development, spanning from design phase to the final concept. Within this field, I explore the fields of agrivoltaics, lightweight PV modules, vehicle integrated (VIPV) and building-Integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Beyond that, I’m actively involved in developing simulation tools that cover all these topics.

What is the main focus of your team in SPHINX?
At CSEM, our team is actively engaged in two primary technical developments and their industrialization (upscaling). The first focuses on novel encapsulants, aiming to achieve higher module output power, enhanced aesthetics, and improved thermal management through innovative light spectral management. The second area of focus involves developing functional coatings (antiglare and antisoiling) with enhanced reliability and ease of application on the front glass.

Could you describe your favourite moment/satisfaction when working for the project and – more in general – for your organisation?
Undoubtedly, meeting partners, assembling the consortium, and defining project goals are fantastic moments. However, receiving the final approval from the EU Commission was the biggest joy: experts recognizing the project’s significance and granting the green light to proceed with all necessary actions. For CSEM, securing this grant held immense meaning—it marked the exciting beginning of new coating and encapsulant developments.

How do you expect SPHINX results will affect your organisation and the energy storage sector?
SPHINX will boost CSEM developments, specifically in coatings and encapsulants. In addition to technical advancements, SPHINX will address the question of upscaling, accelerating progress along the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) ladder. For the energy sector, SPHINX will impact the adoption of innovative PV solutions for building integration. Furthermore, it will establish M10’s role as a new key player in advancing European equipment for module production with a disruptive stringing technology.


Project progress

© 2023 SPHINX

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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