Tesla began taking orders yesterday for their new Solar Roof. Meanwhile, scientists in Australia believe they might have found a much cheaper solution for mass production at a larger scale: 2-D printed solar panels.
How are they made?
These panels are printed on a strong and flexible plastic film that has a thickness of less than 0.1 millimeter. They are not only cheaper to make, they are also made out of polyethylene terephthalate, which is a recyclable material. This means that old panels can be melted down and created into new ones. They are also made with a special solar ink that conducts electricity.
Studies show that these panels outperform traditional solar panels in low light, meaning that they do not have to be strategically placed facing the sun. They are also said to be more cost-efficient than fossil fuels. 10 printers alone can produce enough solar panel sheets to power around 1,000 homes.
Paul Dastoor and his team of researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia are in their final stage of testing their new 2-D solar panels. They have put the first 100 square meters of the solar panels on roofs and are now testing the durability in real weather conditions.
How much will they cost?
Dastoor says,” We expect in a short period of time the energy we generate will be cheaper than that generated via coal-based fire stations.” These tiles are eventually going to be printed for around $7.42 per square meter, which is $227.58 less than Tesla’s Solar roof per square meter.
Although these 2-D printed solar panels may not be as pretty and discrete as Tesla’s solar roof, if they pass testing, they will be much cheaper than anything else on the market. Dastoors goal for these panels is to be able to provide energy to communities that don’t have any electricity.
The panels will be unveiled to the public for the first time this week at a printing convention in Melbourne called Pacprint. Following the convention, Dastoor will be looking to work with multiple industrial partners to turn this into a reality.