A new solar cell printer installed at CSIRO in Clayton, Victoria is now cranking
out A3-sized flexible solar cells.
The $200,000 printer is the next stage in the evolution of solar cell printing
in Australia. In just three years, researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium
(VICOSC) have progressed from making cells the size of a fingernail to cells that are
now 30cm wide.
Using semiconducting inks, the cells are printed on thin flexible plastic or
steel at a rate of up to ten metres per minute or one large cell every two seconds.
Current studies have shown stable outdoor performance beyond six months and the
consortium anticipates lifetimes of several years will be achievable soon. Current module power output from printed devices is 10-50W per square
metre; but over 80W has been achieved on small lab-scale devices.
The technology doesn't have to be a competitor when it comes to traditional
silicon based solar panels. Thin film solar can be used to enhance the
efficiency of standard solar panels as the different types of cells capture
light from different parts of the solar spectrum.
The researchers have a grand vision for their printed solar cell technology.
"Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line
skyscrapers," says VICOSC project coordinator and University of Melbourne
researcher Dr David Jones. "By printing directly to materials like steel,
we'll also be able to embed cells onto roofing materials."
A screen printing line is also being installed at nearby Monash University and
combined will see Clayton Manufacturing and Materials Precinct one of the
largest organic solar cell printing facilities on the planet.
The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium is a collaborative effort between
CSIRO, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, BlueScope Steel, Robert
Bosch SEA, Innovia Films and Innovia Security and is supported by the Victorian
State Government and the federally funded Australian Renewable Energy Agency