Australia: Print your own solar panel!

Dr Scott Watkins holding a sheet of flexible solar cells. (Credit: CSIRO)
Dr Scott Watkins holding a sheet of flexible solar cells. (Credit: CSIRO)

Australian researchers developed a new printer, which allows them to produce solar panels in glue paper size A3 in seconds.
The printer was developed by researchers from the University of Melbourne, the Organic Solar Cell Consortium of Victoria (VICOSC) and the Organisation of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO) in the country.

The cells produce 10-50 watts per square meter and according to the scientists they could be placed on skyscrapers providing an additional source of energy or cover materials such as steel, which at the end could be integrated into roofs of the buildings.

According to CSIRO scientist Dr Scott Watkins, the ability to print these materials on a large scale opens the way for many pilots. “I could see [the cells] in bright advertising signs or powering lights and other interactive elements,” explains Dr Scott Watkins. “We can even incorporate them into pockets notebooks as a backup power source for the machine.”
The researchers note that the technology used is highly affordable and based on exploiting existing methods. “We use the same techniques you would use one if you want to print an image from one screen to a tee,” he says David Jones from the University of Melbourne and VICOSC.

The scientists used semiconductor inks to print the cells directly onto very thin, flexible plastic or steel. The machine, which was developed over three years and cost around 150,000 euros, can print up to ten meters per minute cells, producing one cell per two seconds.

Themselves state that their goal is not necessarily to replace conventional silicon cells, as the two technologies could be combined. “Different types of cells collect light from different parts of the solar spectrum, so instead of talking about competing technologies complement each other,” explains Watkins.

You can watch Dr Watkins explaining more about the project at the video below.


One thought on “Australia: Print your own solar panel!

  1. The solar panel design includes concentrator in which light is focused by lenses or mirrors onto an array of lesser cells. This enables the utilisation of cells with a high cost per unit area in a cost-effective way.

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