Printable Solar Panels / Cells – A Primer.

Printable Solar Panels – at some point it may be possible to use a simple desktop inkjet printer to print your own solar cells. We’re a while off that yet, but with great advancements in the technology over the last couple of years, let’s take a look at what the future holds for printed solar cells!

Printable Solar Panels

Printable Solar Panels - University of Newcastle
Printed Solar Cells – University of Newcastle (source: abc.net.au via University of Newcastle)

We wrote last week about the University of Newcastle and their foray into printed solar cells – today we’re going to take a bit of a deep dive into the situation and see where we can expect this technology to go in the next few years. 

The University of Newcastle are reporting that their latest tests in Newcastle brings them “about two years” away from launching their product onto the commercial solar market. Leading the charge has been University of Newcastle physicist Professor Paul Dastoor, who created the electronic inks which are used to print the flexible solar panels.

The process is According to the ABC, semi-conducting ink is printed on a transparent plastic sheet for the first layer, and then layers are printed on top of the other, until the cells are about 200 microns thick. For reference, human hair is around 50 microns. After that, a “top contact layer” is done again, reel-to-reel, using a technique known as sputter coating, according to Professor Dastoor.

They estimate the cost of their modules at less than $10 per square metre which is extremely cheap – the main problems are the efficiency of the printed solar panels and ensuring there’s enough space for them as it’ll take quite a lot of room on a roof. They use a lot of plastic to manufacture as well so looking at ways to recycle the waste of printed solar cells is extremely important. For that reason, in six months Professor Dastoor and his team will pull the printed solar cells off the Melbourne roof they’re currently on and investigate ways to minimise environmental waste. 

 

 

Read More Solar News:

Printed Solar Cells | University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle has been able to deliver printed solar cells at a production cost of less than $10 per square metre. They are now powering a Newcastle business and showing results in the wild. Amazing steps forward for solar technology, and in our own backyard! How long until we can print solar cells at home using inkjet printers?

Printed Solar Cells – Breakthrough Technology

University of Newcastle physicist Professor Paul Dastoor has created electronic inks which are used to print the flexible solar panels – offering “unprecedented affordability” and could help solve the energy crises in New South Wales and Australia-wide.

“We are changing the climate, we know it’s because burning fossil fuels and we have to shift to renewables, even if leaders in Canberra can’t understand that,” he told AAP via the Bega District News.

“This technology has the potential to be enormously scalable … it’s fast, it’s low cost and doesn’t require anything special.”

The team are able to print hundreds of metres of solar cells at the Centre of Organic Electronics at the University of Newcastle. If a commercial scale printer were obtained, this could easily be upgraded to kilometres of cells. 

“The low cost and speed at which this technology can be deployed is exciting as we need to find solutions, and quickly, to reduce demand on base-load power – a renewed concern as we approach another summer here in Australia,” Professor Dastoor said.

 
Printed Solar Cells via Paul Dastoor
Printed Solar Cells via Paul Dastoor of University of Newcastle (source: newcastle.edu.au)

Around 200 square metres of the printed solar panels has been installed at an industrial site owned by logistics company CHEP in Beresfield, near Newcastle.

This is a fantastic step forwards for solar panel technology People who are wanting to install solar into a rental property or those who don’t have access to a roof (apartment solar) will be licking their lips at the possibility. 

According to Wikipedia, these printed solar cells have a few main drawbacks:

  1. The efficiency of inket solar cells is “too low to be commercially viable” 
  2. Indium is a rare material and could be gone in 15 years.
  3. The ink needs to be weather resistant and can survive harsh conditions.

It looks like the efficiency of Dr Dastoor’s printed solar panels is around 2-3%, but at only A$10 per square metre when manufactured at scale, it looks like these modules are certainly commercially viable, even if they’re not the most efficient cells in the world. 

In six months they will remove the test panels from the CHEP roof and have a look at recycling the material. Professor Dastoor and his team will also run some statistics on how well the printed solar was able to perform. We’ll keep you updated! 

If you want to learn more about flexible solar panel tech, please click here

Read More Solar News:

Newcastle solar farm to go ahead – Carnegie

Carnegie Clean Energy, who last week announced they will be building both the Kalbarri microgrid and the Kalgoorlie solar farm, have had another win today as their fully owned subsidiary Energy Made Clean won a tender to build and operate a $7m, 5MW Newcastle solar farm. 

Newcastle Solar Farm

Newcastle Solar Farm
Newcastle Solar Farm (source: Carnegie Clean Energy)

According to a press released they issued yesterday, Carnegie Clean Energy won the tender to install the PV solar + storage facility on a capped, former landfill site at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre in Newcastle. The project forms part of Newcastle Council’s plan to cut emissions by 30% by 2020 as part of the Renewable Energy Target. 

Carnegie’s Managing Director, Dr Michael Ottaviano (feels like we’ve been quoting him every day lately!) said, “We are delighted to have won our first utility scale solar farm project in NSW and our first to be connected in the National Electricity Market. This project brings the value of new contracted work for our joint venture to over $30m over the past 2 months.”

The Newcastle solar farm will be installed as a ground mounted fixed tilt system. It’ll have an optimised piling system so as to benefit as much as possible from the site topology and it’ll be modular – they are preparing for the future addition of a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). Carnegie have stated that the design phase has already commenced and plant commissioning is expected at the end of Q3 this year. 

Energy Made Clean “specialises in the delivery of mixed renewable energy microgrid projects to islands and remote and fringe of grid communities” and Carnegie is the “only company in the world to offer a combination of wave, solar, wind, battery storage and desalination via microgrids” – so it’ll be really interesting to see what their future plans are now that they have some big projects to work on! 

Read More Solar News:

Newcastle Solar Panel and Battery Installers

If you’re looking for solar installers in Newcastle then check out this handy guide which will tell you everything you need to know and offer a bunch of Newcastle solar options – make sure you do your due diligence and end up with a quality system as solar is a long term investment – and feel free to call or email us if you have any questions!

Newy hit 39.2° back in January 2017 and has average highs of 20°+ for 9 months of the year – so there’s plenty of sunlight to save loads of money on electricity for Novocastrians.

Newcastle Solar Installers
Newcastle Solar Installers (source: visitnewcastle.com.au)

Newcastle Solar Installers – SolarKraft

Newcastle Solar Power with Solarkraft
Newcastle Solar Power with Solarkraft

SolarKraft are our preferred supplier in the Newcastle region. They’re a Clean Energy Council member and have an average review on Facebook of 4.7. They also service Greater Newcastle – Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Maitland and Port Stephens.

SolarKraft offer a generous financing offer where you can go solar for $0 upfront, and partner with Diamond Energy who offer SolarKraft customers up to 20c per kWh to feed back into the grid.

The team at SolarKraft use ‘solar drones’ for site inspections and maintenance – to ensure your solar system is working at optimum capacity. Their solar drones perform a thermal imaging scan.  Alongside a full manual visual examination to weed out any potential problems, you can be sure you’ll get the best system for the best value, which will save you money for many years to come.

Whether you want a full solar system, solar panels, or a solar battery connected to existing panels, they can help. Be sure to check out our solar battery comparison if you want to know more about what sort of options you have with regards to solar storage.

Simply click here to visit the SolarKraft website or give them a call on 1300 985 363 – make sure you tell them SavingWithSolar sent you 😉

Other Newcastle Solar Panel Installers

GoSolar Newcastle – www.gosolarnewcastle.com.au (02 4954 9967)

Superior Solar – www.superiorsolar.com.au (02 4323 9050)

Solar Australia – www.solaraus.com.au

Solargain – www.solargain.com.au (1300 73 93 55) (Solargain are an Australia wide company but they also provide solar power packages for Newcastle)

HCB Solar – www.hcb-solar.com.au (02 4040 4307) (HCB Solar service Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, and Lake Macquarie)

Solar City – www.solarcityre.com.au (02 4932 4480) (Solar City service Maitland, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Rutherford, Raymond Terrace, Cessnock, Singleton and the Hunter Valley)

Newcastle Solar Reviews

If you have had any dealings with and want to leave feedback for any of these companies let us know in the comments! We’re always interested in learning more about different solar companies and which have helped you get a great result.

Read More Solar News: