An inexpensive new kind of solar power has just been launched in Australia and it could signal the start of a groundbreaking new market for renewable energy.
Professor Paul Dastoor has created organic solar panels that can be printed using conventional printers.
By using electronic inks that are printed onto sub-millimeter thin plastic sheets, the panels can be produced for less that $10 per square meter and installed by a few people within a single work day.
Since the University of Newcastle professor developed the panels back in May 2017, they are now being tested in a 6-month pilot installation on a pallet repair facility in Australia.
The 200-square-meter installation on the building is the first commercial application of the technology in Australia, and most likely the rest of the world. If the pilot is proven to be efficient, the solar tech will likely move into the more widely-available commercial market within the next few years.
According to The Guardian, the development of such a cheap and easy-to-install material could make signing up for energy accounts as easy as signing up for a new phone plan.
“This is the first commercial uptake of printed solar in Australia, most likely the world,” said Dastoor. “It’s an historic step in the evolution of this technology and another example of private enterprise and community leading the charge in the adoption of renewables.”
“Our printed solar cells are now considered to be at the ‘top of the technology readiness tree’,” says Dastoor. “Those working in technology development use a NASA developed Technology Readiness Level or ‘TRL’ system to determine how evolved our solutions are, with 1 being the lowest and 9 the highest. We are now rated TRL 8 and essentially considered ‘green lit’.”
Book-Sized Solar Panels Could Power a Whole Home in New Breakthrough
Scientists have developed a pioneering new technique that could generate enough electricity to power an entire home – all by using solar panels that are much smaller than current models.
A team of experts from the University of Exeter has discovered an innovative way for generating photovoltaic (PV) energy – or ways in which to convert light into power.
The new technique relies on ‘funneling’ the sun’s energy more efficiently directly into power cells, such as solar panels or batteries.
Crucially, this ground-breaking method has the potential to harvest three times the energy compared with traditional systems. The researchers believe their breakthrough could result in solar panels, no bigger than a book, producing enough energy to power a family-sized house.
The results are published in the leading scientific journal, Nature Communications.
Adolfo De Sanctis, who is the lead author of the paper, said: “The idea is similar to pouring a liquid into a container, as we all know it is much more efficient if we use a funnel. However, such charge funnels cannot be realized with conventional semiconductors and only the recent discovery of atomically thin materials has enabled this discovery.”
In the research, the team of physics experts developed a process to ‘funnel’ electrical charge onto a chip. Using the atomically thin semiconductor hafnium disulphide (HfS2), which is oxidized with a high-intensity UV laser, the team was able to engineer an electrical field that funnels electrical charges to a specific area of the chip, where they can be more easily extracted.
While current solar cells are able to convert around 20% of the energy received from the sun, the new technique has the potential to convert around 60% of it by funneling the energy more efficiently.
Source: University of Exeter