Printed solar panels could be a game changer for providing affordable solar power.
BY CAMERON DRUMMOND
THE University of Newcastle (UON) has unveiled Australia’s first printed solar demonstration site to test its printed solar technology, one of only three comparable sites worldwide.
UON Professor Paul Dastoor said the material could be rapidly manufactured, enabling accelerated deployment into the marketplace.
Pioneered by Professor Dastoor’s UON team, the material is made by printing an advanced electronic ink onto paper thin, clear laminated sheets using conventional printing presses.
“There are just three demonstration sites at this scale that we know of anywhere in the world, so Australia has joined quite an elite group of global leaders poised to make this technology a commercial reality,” Professor Dastoor said.
“No other renewable energy solution can be manufactured as quickly.
“On our lab-scale printer we can easily produce hundreds of metres of material per day, on a commercial-scale printer this would increase to kilometres.
“If you had just ten of these printers operating around the clock we could print enough material to deliver power to 1000 homes per day.
“The low-cost and speed at which this technology can be deployed is exciting, particularly in the current Australian energy context where we need to find solutions, and quickly, to reduce demand on base-load power.”
Professor Dastoor said the demonstration site enabled final phase testing and modifications of the system before the renewable energy technology could be made available to the public.
“This installation brings us closer than we have ever been to making this technology a reality [and] will help to determine the lifespan of the material and provide half-hourly feedback on the performance of the system,” he said.
The material could deliver a new ‘functional printing’ revenue stream for the printing industry – the second largest manufacturing industry in Australia.