Open Science for innovative products in photovoltaics.

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Summary

GRECO is a pilot of the European Commission that aims to put into action the concepts of Open Science and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) for the development of socially responsible photovoltaic products.

GRECO uses Open Science practices (and more broadly, Responsible Research and Innovation methodologies) to create research products aligned with current society challenges. It will also become a matrix on the implementation of these methods within a major R&D project. GRECO (H2020-787289) started in June 2018 and will end on May 31, 2021. It is financed with 3 million Euros.

The Solar Energy Institute of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), coordinates this multidisciplinary research project where different parties of the quadruple helix of innovation -civil society organizations, industry, government and academia- are committed to collaborate and share knowledge and data among each other and interested third parties to come up with six innovative PV products.

The project has effectively enabled this collaboration in different locations of Europe and  Brazil through public engagement mechanisms. Processes such as user-centered Open Innovation, Citizen Science or Mobilization and Mutual Learning (MML) actions have been particularly relevant for the development of the GRECO products.

The Citizen Science initative has resulted in the creation of the solar energy app "GENERATION SOLAR", which is available on Android and iOS. It is an open database for rooftop installations and boosts the worldwide use of solarpower. The video tutorial for GENERATION SOLAR is published on the GRECO youtube channel.

Also, through Open Science tools such as Open Access, Open Data, Open Education, Open Notebooks, Open Software and Open Peer-Review, GRECO aims at generating a research process more accessible to the rest of world. Ana Belén Cristóbal and Carlos del Cañizo, coordinators of GRECO: “This will undoubtedly allow that the scientific concepts can be quickly reused by third parties, science can advance in a more transversal way and there is no double financing of the same researches in different parts of the world”.

The implementation of all these mechanisms have undeniable advantages, but the biggest question remains: How far can Open Science be used without losing competitiveness? GRECO will determine, evaluate and manage this challenge within GRECO. 

Finally, GRECO will regulate the ethical, gender and governance principles, the remaining aspects of the RRI, which will guide the project in its search for socially responsible products.

Throughout the project, researchers will design six innovative products:

The first one is an in-situ repairing methodology that saves the cost of replacing defective modules in a PV installation while supporting the idea of Circular Economy. Through a collaborative process , a Europe-wide search for "Old Modules" was organised and based on the analysis of those modules from civil society, GRECO researchers developed a repairing method. In addition, they published a video-tutorial on the GRECO youtube-channel.

The second product is an ageing model for PV modules to improve the estimation of energy production of PV plants and reduce the uncertainty on the estimations that are made by financial agencies when considering investments on this type of projects. To that extent, the project has involved European installations’ owners to access and measure their plants. The data has already been analysed and the final result will be presented at the end of the project.

A third product targets to develop a more sustainable solution for irrigation, pursuing a reduction of costs and a major use of renewable energy in agriculture. Both governments and irrigators from the Euro-Mediterranean area in were asked for their current needs and GRECO researchers are  co-designing a product that meets their demands.

The three remaining products are devoted to improve the penetration of photovoltaic energy into the electric system, taking advantage of its decentralised character. GRECO will develop cheaper and more efficient solar cells, a novel system of modules to provide energy to buildings up to 8 storeys high, and improved PV heat-pump systems as renewable sources in the daily-life. To define proper roadmaps for a better alignment of the technology with the society, GRECO has performed various Mobilisation and Mutual Learning processes (MMLs) with different relevant stakeholders in six  countries: Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Germany, United Kingdom and Brazil.

However, the greatest impact expected from the project will be the practical guide for researchers on Open Science which was published in July.  It is designed as a guidebook for the scientific community on the implementetion of Open Science in research projects.

All products of GRECO will follow Open Science practices and several actions have been designed to contribute to the openness of the results. Researchers will adopt not only Open Access and Open Data policies, but also will explore the implementation of Open Notebooks in research institutions or the use of video-tutorials as a double resource: educational and metadata.

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