Australia’s first commercial installation of printed solar cells, made using specialised semiconducting inks and printed using a conventional reel-to-reel printer, has been installed on a factory roof in Newcastle.
Created by University of Newcastle physicist Paul Dastoor, the organic solar cells are printed on a ultra-lightweight, laminate material, similar in texture and flexibility to crisp packet.
“Imagine a planet that harnesses the abundant light energy that it receives. Where every building and vehicle generates electricity in the sun and where low cost energy is accessible by all. ” Professor Paul Dastoor.
Organic solar cells work by converting the energy from sunlight into separate positive and negative charges that can be used as electricity. Organic solar modules are extremely thin, making their cost very low as very little material is used. Their flexibility opens up almost endless possibilities for deployment.
Moreover, the material delivers unprecedented affordability at a production cost of less than €10 per square metre.
We predict that these printed solar modules could conceivably be installed onto any roof or structure using simple adhesive tape and connected to wires using simple press-studs.
Commercial-scale installation is the final hurdle before this technology becomes widely available.
Within the next six months, the Centre for Organic Electronics will welcoming new infrastructure and equipment that will help build the next layers of the cells. A newly installed printer at the University’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) has made it possible to print up to a hundred metres of solar cells a day. Professor Dastoor expects the first prototypes to be available within a year.