Solar power has come a long way since photovoltaics were discovered by Edmond Becquerel in 1839. With 1.6% of energy in the United States coming from solar power and 1.5 million solar panels in use in the continental U.S, solar energy is an ever-growing source of energy for many people.
As with other evolving technologies, there are a number of innovations being made to enhance solar energy’s effectiveness. One of the most interesting innovations so far are printed solar panels. These have the potential to revolutionize the production of solar grids and increase the pace of solar power’s proliferation. Let’s talk about what printed solar panels are and the potential they have to revolutionize solar power’s position in the energy market.
What are Printed Solar Panels?
According to the University of Newcastle Australia, printed solar panels are a “low-cost, lightweight, and highly portable renewable energy solution.” These panels can be produced very quickly with printers. This makes them easier to deploy and replaced for a much lower cost than traditional solar panels. This also makes it easier to construct these panels within other structural materials like vehicle skins, tents, and more.
How are they made?
To create the panels, engineers use liquid organic polymer compounds instead of silicon to mass produce photovoltaic strips. These 0.075 mm thick strips can be adhesively attached to surfaces to easily install them in a variety of different possible locations.
How can Printed Solar Panels be used?
There are a number of different applications for the printed panels. According to University of Newcastle Australia professor Paul Dastoor, the printed panels can be produced cheaply. They are very portable and flexible. Therefore, they can be built into vehicles and other materials to be used as a more efficient source of energy. For example, military personnel could use the panels built into their vehicles or tools. This way they wouldn’t need to use batteries or generators provided via airlift in remote locations.
Printed solar has a number of potential applications in a variety of industries, including military, automotive, maritime, manufacturing, survival equipment, smart cities, smart homes, and many more potential applications requiring flexible solar energy.
Printed solar panels can be created more cheaply and distributed faster than traditional solar panels. This significantly reduces the barrier to entry for solar energy. According to Sculpteo, printed solar cells can be produced at half the cost of their traditional counterparts. This makes them more efficient and more effective for deployment in developing countries.
The University of Newcastle Australia’s proprietary printed solar panels can be produced at a price as little as $10 AUD per square meter. On a larger scale, kilometers of solar panels could be produced each day.
Have a look at the tech in action in the following video: