Thursday, October 19, 2006

Australian solar cell technology, 27 October 2006

Andrew Blakers
Back in March I mentioned an inspirational talk by Professor Andrew Blakers on Australian solar cell technology. He is giving another talk in Canberra next week.

Press reports, from as far as Turkey, indicate the technology will be developed offshore:
Origin Energy has confirmed commercial manufacture of ANU's solar sliver cell technology is poised to go offshore, possibly to Germany or the United States, to capitalise on government investment incentives for solar energy in those countries. ...

From Journal of Turkish Weekly, 3 Oct 2006
I don't see this as a bad thing, as long as Australia gets a reasonable payment for licensing the technology. Perhaps Professor McKibbin's "Architecture for International Cooperation on Climate Change" would make it cost effective to manufacture the cells in Australia. The cells could be used to charge our electric cars and run our houses.


Professor Andrew Blakers (Director, Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems & ARC Centre of Excellence for Solar Energy Systems, ANU.)

DATE: 2006-10-27
TIME: 11:00:00 - 12:00:00
LOCATION: RSISE Seminar Room, ground floor, building 115, cnr. North and Daley Roads, ANU

The worldwide solar energy industry is doubling in size every 18 months, driven by concerns about global warming. Photovoltaic technology is likely to be a substantial component of future electricity supply. About 95% of solar cells are manufactured on crystalline silicon substrates. However, the current shortage of hyperpure silicon is constraining the industry. Possible solutions include thin crystalline silicon solar cells, non-silicon materials and solar concentrator systems. The talk will describe the technological and commercial problems and opportunities of the PV industry, and will include a survey of Australia's position.

Photovoltaic research and commercialisation in the Australian National University will be described. Recent work shows that Sliver solar cell technology is capable of cost reductions of three quarters compared with current photovoltaic technology. Standard materials and techniques are used in novel ways to create 20% efficient thin single crystalline solar cells with superior performance and sharply reduced cost. Sliver technology is a disruptive technology within a well-established conventional industry. PV and hybrid PV/thermal solar concentrator systems are also under development at ANU. This is a multidisciplinary endeavour, and brings together solar cell physics & technology with materials, mechanical, electrical and control engineering. Solar concentrators have good economic prospects in Australia and elsewhere once the cost of carbon emissions is internalised into fossil fuel costs.

Professor Andrew Blakers is the Foundation Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Solar Energy Systems. His research interests are photovoltaics, solar energy systems and energy policy. Particular interests are Sliver solar cell technology (which he co-invented with Klaus Weber) and solar concentrators. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering, the Institute of Energy and the Institute of Physics, and has published approximately 200 papers and 10 patents.

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