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PRINTED SOLAR PANELS: THE GAME CHANGER

Bushra Farizma Hussain
PRINTED SOLAR PANELS: THE GAME CHANGER
Professor Paul Dastoor and his team of researchers are in the final stage of testing his printed solar solution.

Imagine, our houses powered with solar cells in curtains, blinds, and windows, generating electricity wherever the sun shines but also produce a more constant flow of power on cloudy days even from moonlight (though a small amount of energy), and in affordable price! All you need is to know how to print! 

An experimental panel is being made by printing a special electronic ink onto clear laminated sheets as thin as a single piece of paper using conventional printing presses, which would work like solar panels. 

Professor Paul Dastoor and his team of researchers started with this experiment with a view to amalgamate technology with sustainability. They printed solar panels using special electronic ink onto clear laminated sheets and installed those using Velcro strips covering an area of about 100 square meters. Working on the project for more than 15 years, this had been the first large-scale test by the team. 

As approved by the University of Newcastle, the researchers will monitor this large area of panels under real world conditions for the first time. A new service delivery model is now dependent on the success of the test. The proof of concept demonstration could pave the way to removing key barriers to solar uptake in the community. 

The printed solar panels are more sensitive to low light levels. Hence, they can produce a more constant flow of power on cloudy days. Though in a very insignificant amount, they can even use the moonlight to produce energy. This, if successful, will make anything and everything exposed to solar energy to convert into electricity easily and within the affordability. Our walls, windows, roller blinds, shade umbrellas, and even tents- you name it- will be our smart and sustainable solution to storage of solar energy for electricity. 

Made out of plastic and ink of negligible cost, this printed solar panel is a big leap towards sustainable technology. You can let it settle anywhere you want and get the expected result since the solar principles remain unchanged. 

A team of 50 chemists, physicists, and engineers – working together since 2007 – hope to see printed solar panels used in low-power applications within the next few years ensuring that the science actually ends up on our rooftops! Undoubtedly, the success will make the mankind ever grateful to them!

But first, let us thank Gutenberg, who invented printing press 600 years ago, who had no idea how far and to where his invention will lead the mankind!    
 

June 15, 2017
About Author

An aesthete, conversationalist, logophile, poet who loves the sea, and currently a Lit-enthusiast at ULAB

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