Australian technology in thin, lightweight solar panels that can be glued to any ready-made surface to give Australia and the world a new, locally-made source, says the researcher whose team has it. developed.
Newcastle University physics professor Paul Dastoor says his team has completed a fully functional pilot project and has several more underway.
The technology is a few years away from commercialization and Professor Dastoor has said that now “preparing to build the first printed solar power plant here in Australia“.
“We are in the process of securing funding to reach the next production scale“, He said.
The Center for Organic Electronics at the University of Newcastle has developed its own technology using organic polymers that capture solar energy and generate electricity.
Liquid organic polymers are placed on sheets of material using conventional printers, such as ink on paper, to create a solar panel only 0.075 millimeters thick that can be stuck, with special adhesive tape, onto surfaces. Traditional rooftop photovoltaic solar panels use silicon to generate electricity.
The first pilot project for this printed solar technology is in Sydney, with panels glued to the roof of a covered walkway that powers the entire assembly.
Professor Dastoor said that in the near future, printed solar technology could be developed to suit almost any surface and for example to power urban lighting, road water pumps, disaster shelters, caravans or vehicles. shutters for residential buildings to floating decks for dams and swimming pools, greenhouse decks or even yacht sails.
“Imagine a world where everyone has access to electricity and where every surface can produce clean, economical and sustainable energy from the sunSaid Professor Dastoor.
But all is not so simple for printed solar energy. While its production cost of $ 10 per square meter is very low and the panels weigh next to nothing compared to solar panels on rooftops, tipping the scales at around 15kg per square meter, solar power printed material is much less efficient and durable than conventional panels. technologies.
Printed solar panels last only two years and offer only 2% of the efficiency of rooftop photovoltaic panels, which are built to last around 25 years.
Professor Dastoor said his team had calculated that to be competitive, their printed solar technology would have to have a useful life of three years and run at 3% of the efficiency of existing technology, which they said would be reached “within the next two years”.
Apart from its more specific applications, printed solar could find a domestic market through a retail contract. “rent your rooftop space for cheaper energySaid Professor Dastoor.
“The business model could be for electricity retailers to offer contract-based technology similar to mobile phones – the retailer installs and replaces the panels as they wear out and you get a cut on the energy. .Said Professor Dastoor.
“Every time we do an upgraded version, you will have it on your roof, like when you renew your contract.“
More information: www.newcastle.edu.au