Project Aiming for Cheap, Efficient, and Eco-Friendly Solar Cells

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In an era where sustainability is paramount, a groundbreaking initiative is spearheaded by researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in partnership with innovative solar cell manufacturers. This ambitious project seeks to revolutionise the solar energy landscape by developing cost-effective, flexible perovskite solar cells that promise heightened efficiency and environmental friendliness.

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Perovskite solar cells

Perovskite solar cells are a type of solar cell that uses perovskite, a material with a unique crystal structure, as the light-absorbing layer. Perovskite solar cells have several advantages over traditional silicon solar cells, including:

  • They are much cheaper to produce.
  • They are more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity.
  • They are more flexible and can be used on a wider variety of surfaces.

The collaborative endeavour

QUT, in collaboration with prominent Australian solar research firms, is committed to commercialising ultra-low-cost perovskite solar cells. Led by Professor Hongxia Wang from the QUT School of Chemistry and Physics, the project has secured a substantial grant of $2,028,773 from the Australian government’s Cooperative Research Centres Project (CRC-P) initiative. The consortium, comprising Halocell Energy, First Graphene, and QUT, aims to pioneer advancements in solar technology.

solar cells.
A project led by Professor Hongxia Wang aims to produce flexible, ultra-low-cost perovskite solar cells.

Objectives and funding

With a comprehensive three-year plan and total funding exceeding $5.26 million, Professor Wang envisions replacing expensive precious metal-based conductor materials with affordable carbon-based composites. The project targets upscaling production processes to enable large-scale, cost-effective manufacturing of perovskite solar cells.

Key innovations and outcomes

The envisaged outcomes of this endeavour are multifaceted. It aims to revolutionise the solar industry by utilising Australian raw materials, enhancing energy security and creating substantial employment opportunities. Moreover, the project endeavours to deploy perovskite photovoltaics, offering higher efficiency while minimising the environmental impact of solar cell production.

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The team driving innovation

Under the leadership of Halocell CEO Paul Moonie, the team comprises esteemed individuals such as Dr Minh Tam Hoang from QUT, Dr David Pham (Chief Science Officer at Halocell), and Dr Ian Martin (R&D Manager at First Graphene). Leveraging the expertise of these professionals, the project is poised to achieve significant milestones in solar cell technology.

Manufacturing breakthroughs

Halocell’s roll-to-roll production process at their Wagga Wagga plant in New South Wales is the manufacturing hub for these revolutionary perovskite solar cells. This approach promises flexibility in application and cost-effectiveness in production, pushing the boundaries of traditional solar cell technology.

solar cells

The promise of perovskite solar cells

Compared to conventional silicon solar cells, perovskite solar cells exhibit unparalleled advantages. Despite a relatively short research and development timeline of ten years, these cells have demonstrated an efficiency exceeding 26 per cent. Their flexible application on various substrates through low-cost roll-to-roll production processes showcases their adaptability and economic viability.

Environmentally friendly approach

One of the most compelling aspects of perovskite solar cells is their minimal environmental impact. They boast a significantly reduced manufacturing footprint, consume less energy during production, and generate substantially less toxic waste than existing photovoltaic technologies.

Graphene’s role in advancing solar technology

Graphene, a one-atom-thick carbon layer, plays a pivotal role in this innovation. First, Graphene’s Managing Director, Michael Bell, highlights previous research indicating that graphene-based materials outperform conventional silicon cells, especially in low-light conditions. This validation propels the case for large-scale commercial production of perovskite cells and their essential materials.

Project benefits

The project is expected to have several benefits, including:

  • Reduced costs for solar energy.
  • Increased efficiency of solar energy conversion.
  • Reduced environmental impact of solar energy production.
  • Creation of new jobs in the solar energy industry.
solar cells
Image: Halocell Energy

Source&Images: Queensland University of Technology (QUT) News, Halocell Energy

The project’s aspirations

The collaborative efforts between QUT, Halocell Energy, and First Graphene signify a significant leap forward in solar technology. The project’s aspirations to develop affordable, highly efficient, and environmentally friendly perovskite solar cells have the potential to redefine the future of sustainable energy production. As this initiative progresses, it promises a transformative impact on the solar energy landscape and underscores Australia’s pivotal role in driving global innovation toward a greener future.

Going commercial solar?

When installing commercial solar for a company, it is crucial to be informed of all types of federal government solar rebates, incentives and the many benefits these provide, as they may help Australian businesses become future-ready and sustainable for years to come.

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