FRIDAY 20 FEBRUARY, 2009 |
Australia's Printable Solar Cells
Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Peter Batchelor, announced
yesterday the beginning of trials to print solar cells using technology
developed by the CSIRO, a partner in the Victorian
Organic Solar Cell Consortium project.
Mr. Batchelor stated the production of the polymer solar cells will be literally as easy as printing money.
The process uses elements of the technology employed in the production of Australia's
According to the CSIRO's Gerry
, print trials conducted yesterday ran at 200 metres a minute, which
would work out to 100 kilometres per day under normal manufacturing conditions.
Based on the cells attaining 10% efficiency, over 5 months enough plastic solar
cells could be printed to generate a gigawatt of power.
The printable solar cells offer several advantages over traditional solar panel
technology including of the potential to mass produce the cells cheaply and
install them over large areas with uneven surfaces.
The flexible and lightweight nature of the cells make them ideal for a myriad of
uses and the cells can also be made thin enough to become semi-transparent,
allowing for applications such as windows. Given their ability to float, more
novel uses could include blankets for dams and pools to reduce evaporation while
However, even if the 10% conversion efficiency rate is achieved within 5 years,
that's still far behind solid polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar
currently available that achieve up to 19% efficiency; that is, the
ability to convert 19% of the sunlight the panel is exposed to into electricity.
For smaller applications, such as home
, solid panels will likely be the preferred choice for many years
The printing trials are occurring six months ahead of schedule and it's
estimated the printable solar cells will hit the general market the market in
about five years.
The three year $12 million Victorian
Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC
solar cell project is 50% funded by the Victorian Government through an Energy
Technology Innovation Strategy Sustainable Energy Research and Development
grant. The VICOSC is a collaboration between academia and industry with other partners including University of Melbourne, Monash University, Securency,
, Bluescope Steel, Merck and Nanovic.
Return to main renewable energy news section
Other Energy Matters News Services