Making strides towards development of cheap, mass-manufactured solar cells, researchers from an Australian consortium have devised a way to print flexible, large area, reel-to-reel plastic solar panels in a similar way as printing currency notes. Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) including researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Future Manufacturing Flagship, University of Melbourne, Monash University, with industry partners Securency, BP Solar, Bluescope Steel and Merck, developed the technology for the solar cells as a result of work by CSIRO researchers on advanced polymers. Unlike silicon solar cells, the new cells are printed onto a thin flexible plastic, which can be easily installed on any rooftop. The project team believes that printing flexible, organic solar cells on to polymer, in speedy and cost effective manner, has a tremendous prospect.
Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Peter Batchelor said, "These solar cells are cutting edge technology and offer advantages over traditional solar technology because of the potential to mass produce the cells cheaply and install them over large areas such as rooftops. The technology used for these cells is still in its infancy, but this project aims to speed-up the development of this technology and take it from research to rooftops as quickly as possible." The three year $A12 mln VICOSC solar cell project is 50% funded by the Victorian Government through an Energy Technology Innovation Strategy Sustainable Energy Research and Development grant.