Solar Panels Were Just Printed Up in Australia in a World First
By Melinda Cafferty, Natural Blaze
As solar energy technology picks up, it is now becoming more affordable, pliable and accessible to the average home owner.
The “organic solar panels” were just printed up by Professor Paul Dastoor using conventional printers, that is – they were 3D printed.
The news has prompted media reports to picture a time in the near future where getting solar installation is as easy and relatively affordable as signing up for a cell phone contract.
As GNN reports:
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.
Dastoor, pictured above, said:
This is the first commercial uptake of printed solar in Australia, most likely the world.
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’.
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’.
Sculpteo explains that 3D printed solar panels are 50% more affordable to the consumer and 20% more efficient than conventional solar panels.
They say that Australia has already created an entire solar panel field using 3D tech. They say:
At the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) they are using industrial 3D printers to print rolls of solar cells. These Australians scientists succeeded in creating A3 sheets of solar cells, that can be used on any surfaces such as windows or building. These are functional and efficient solar panels.
These solar cells are the largest ones, and they are created with flexible lightweight plastic. The scientists developed a photovoltaic ink, that they drop off on the flexible plastic strip. This whole process include gravure coating, slot-die coating and screen printing. Additive manufacturing helped them to produce an accurate system.
Here is a video showing the solar panel printing in Australia around five years ago:
— Heather Callaghan (@healynC) September 5, 2018
Featured Image: Sculpteo via https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/MF/Areas/Innovation/Flex-Electronics/Printed-Solar-Cells
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