25 °C Singapore, SG
April 20, 2021
Latest News
Loss of Arctic sea ice can spoil French wine harvest Southeast Asia to establish its own framework for green investments, but natural gas remains a feature Major Asian bank says it’s not practical in the short term to cut off clients in the coal business Volkswagen Reveals the ID.6 CROZZ and ID.6 X Guest post: How finance from rich nations could drive 40% of new coal plant emissions What’s Greener In Europe — A Train, A Plane, Or A Car? What’s Dirtiest? Polestar 0: A Truly Carbon-Neutral Car By 2030 University researchers raise a toast to biofuel prospects How can small renewable power producers help the Philippines reach its 35% clean energy target? New report hails the decade of renewables as 2020 hits capacity record Low Carbon Aluminum Boosted By Audi’s Use In Automotive First To avoid future pandemics, reverse the destruction of ecosystems Eni’s new treatment plant begins operations Smart energy managed service stations coming in Singapore Is 2021 when net zero targets become a central focus for world leaders? Australia ranked worst in world on Covid recovery spending on green options How wind power is leading America’s energy transition Indoor-Grown Weed Is Spewing Carbon Into the Atmosphere China selects Siemens Energy transformers for first 66kV offshore wind farm LG Energy Solution to invest $4.5bn in US battery production expansion Waning support for nuclear power 10 years after Fukushima Enterprises’ sustainable development contributes to Việt Nam’s prosperity: PM Grab is hatching a carbon-cutting plan Tata Power unveils blockchain-enabled solar trading for Delhi customers Construction set to start on Australia’s first lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant UK Ford Mustang Mach-E Buyers Get Big Charging Boost Via BP Pulse Network Solar power’s future could soon be overshadowed Why a managed shift away from fossil fuels is essential and urgent. Including for petrostates. Dangerous narratives and climate migration IEA releases India Energy Outlook 2021 report

Australia’s most efficient solar cell, next to ‘revolutionise an entire industry’

A small startup technology company in Wollongong has created what it believes is the most efficient commercial-sized solar cell ever made in Australia without relying on expensive, precious metals, but the next step is more ambitious.

The global solar industry is on a collision course because the growing demand and environmental benefit of solar come with the caveat about its significant use of precious metals.

Today, about 15 per cent of the world’s industrial consumption of silver goes into making solar cells.

“If the industry is to grow by an order of magnitude — which is predicted to happen — that presents a significant challenge,” Sundrive CEO Vince Allen said.

He co-founded the small company in New South Wales that is quietly working to replace silver with copper in solar cell manufacturing.

“It presents its own challenges, and those challenges are the core of what we’re addressing.

“There’s a lot of consensus in the scientific community that copper is most likely to be the most suitable alternative [to silver].”

A solar cell being tested with machinery over a blue solar cell.

A solar cell being tested with machinery over a blue solar cell.

A solar cell being tested for efficiency at Sundrive’s Wollongong lab.(Supplied: Sundrive)

Creating Australia’s most efficient commercial-size solar cell

Late last year, the team used copper instead of silver to fabricate the most efficient commercial-size solar cell ever made in Australia.

Efficiency is measured by how much power you can get out, relative to the amount of sunlight coming in.

Mr Allen said the main problem with using copper on a silicon wafer was it did not stick well enough to the surface of the solar cell and that current methods were unreliable.

Now the team has solved that problem, they are moving on to scaling up production, so those cells can be put on Australian roofs.

And this work is being done in a location so discreet, the only thing on the outside of their building’s wall is a street number.

A solar system installer adjusts solar panels on the roof of a house.

A solar system installer adjusts solar panels on the roof of a house.

Vince Allen says demand for rooftop solar is driving a doubling in size of the solar industry every three years.(Reuters: Tim Wimborne)

Pandemic is steering manufacturing back to Australia

Sundrive’s co-founder David Hu has watched the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on imported goods and has been hearing calls to manufacture more products in Australia.

He said Australia had always been a pioneer in solar technology since the invention of today’s commercial solar cells 30 years ago and we are well-placed to manufacture the product.

He would also like to see the Federal Government’s recent home renovations cash grant proposal be extended to solar panels.

Solar panel

Solar panel

The Sundrive company hopes to be producing its style of solar cells for Australian rooftops in the future.(ABC News: Billy Cooper)

Solar demand set to increase

Mr Allen said the solar industry had been doubling in size about every three years, and Australians’ desire for rooftop solar had been a contributing factor.

Australia has more household solar panels per capita than anywhere else in the world.

With most of those solar panels being manufactured in China, he sees a major business opportunity for solar cells made more sustainably.

It would also be stimulation for the industry manufacturing a product that he believes will significantly outlast current technology.

“When the industry is predicted to grow much greater than it is now, solar cells need to be more efficient and they need to use materials that are more abundant.”

Interestingly, while the company intends to steer solar cell manufacturing away from China, their company’s first investor is Chinese billionaire solar technology pioneer Zhengrong Shi.

Mr Allen said Dr Shi was drawn to Sundrive because he was passionate about using copper instead of silver in solar manufacturing.

“For us, it’s super exciting to start from very early concepts and designs to progressing to prototypes … and getting to the point now where our process is more repeatable and reliable,” he said.

“Going through that whole process is extremely exciting and to do this here and be self-sufficient is incredibly fulfilling.”

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *