We're used to seeing solar panels on roofs and outside building and we know they are cumbersome and not ideal for all buildings. Although popular, it's this lack of flexibility that has restricted their uptake. But now an Australian company could be about to change that.
Through the use of 3D printing, the VOSCC (Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium), consisting of scientists from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), the University of Melbourne, and Monash University in Australia have spent the last seven years developing a way of cheaply printing solar panels onto any surface. Initially, by printing on plastic, we'll be able to have self-charging electronics. Then, using the same technology, they can print directly onto opaque solar film panels and attach them to windows and walls. It's this ability to be able to let light through the cells which makes them different from the competition and if they can be printed on adhesive film, we'd all be able to install them on windows in our homes.
As Fiona Scholes, Senior Research Scientist at CSIRO said, "We print them onto plastic in more or less the same way we print our plastic banknotes. Connecting our solar panels is as simple as connecting a battery. It's very cheap. The way in which it looks and works is quite different to conventional silicon rooftop solar."
CSIRO's future goal is to enhance the efficiency of their panels by producing a solar spray which can be applied directly to their already installed cells.
For more details about their solar panels and how they're printed watch this video.