Printable A3-sized solar cells new milestone in green energy

May 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium

Imagine a future where solar panels speed off the presses, like
newspaper. Australian scientists have brought us one step closer to
that reality. 

Researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar
Cell Consortium
(VICOSC) have developed a printer
that can print 10 metres of flexible solar cells a minute. Unlike
traditional silicon solar cells, printed solar cells are made using
organic semi-conducting polymers, which can be dissolved in a
solvent and used like an ink, allowing solar cells to be

Not only can the VICOSC machine print flexible A3
solar cells, the machine can print directly on to steel, opening up
the possibility for solar cells to be embedded directly into
building materials.

“Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line
said David Jones
, a researcher at University of Melbourne who
is involved with the work. “By printing directly to materials like
steel, we’ll also be able to embed cells onto roofing

The news comes just a month before Harvard’s Clean Energy Project
plans to
make public in June a giant database of compounds
that can be
used for printing solar cells. The list of 20,000 organic compounds
may help scientists develop computer models for more efficient and
less expensive printable solar cells. 

The solar cell

Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium

Solar energy received another boost on the opposite side of the
world as Elon Musk’s rooftop solar energy company, SolarCity,
received backing from Goldman Sachs
. The $500 million (£330
million) deal will provide leases for SolarCity customers,
90 percent of whom lease the solar panels
rather than buy them

In 2010, a team at MIT
unveiled a paper solar cell
that could be folded into a paper
aeroplane and still function.

Efficiency is still an issue for printable solar cells. The
VICOSC team say that their cells can generate up to 50
watts of power per square metre, meaning you would need two metres
squared to safely power a 15-inch MacBook Pro. 

Before you gets carried away with notions of printing your own
solar cells at home, it should be noted that
VICOSC‘s printer currently costs A$200,000

Edited by Nate Lanxon

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