Australia kickstarts green future with printed solar panel sites

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Paul Dastoor looks at the buildings, houses and cities around him and sees lost opportunities.

He imagines a future where the majority of roofs are covered in printed solar panels less than one millimeter thick.

“Our vision is that we want to see every building, every structure power generated solar cells.”

The University of Newcastle professor has made this vision a reality, creating the first printed solar site in Australia.

“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,” he said.

Costing less than $10 per square metre to make, the panels can be rapidly manufactured and easily transported.

On a commercial scale, enough solar panels can be printed to deliver power to one thousand homes a day.

The team at the University of Newcastle have been developing the ability to print at scale over the last five years. This has taken printed solar panels from small scale technology to commercial prototypes.

“It’s been a journey heading towards this pre-commercial stage where we can now print hundreds of meters of solar panels a day,” Professor Dastoor says.

Beyond powering our houses and cities, there’s potential for this new technology to assist in disaster and emergency relief. Solar cells can be printed on demand, sent to disaster zones and deployed to power relief efforts.

Easily installed and continuous functionality in low light and cloud coverage means there would be no dip in productivity.

In Melbourne, you can catch a display of the solar cells outside of the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre over the next week. 32 printed panels are powering the screens and displays of the exhibition.

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