FUTUREWATCH: Printable Solar Cells 0

The production of conventional solar cells is a costly affair. This is one reason that has hindered the popular use of solar energy for day-to-day electricity demands of households and organizations. Another reason is the use of a complex technology for producing solar cells and less enthusiasm among governments to adopt solar technologies. However, all of these could become a thing of past soon. Researchers have now shown that solar cells can be printed on a large scale just like newspapers. Such cells are cheap and can be printed on almost every kind of surfaces.

Need for change

There are many reasons that call for a change in methods of solar energy production. First of all, there is an urgent need of a switchover to renewable sources. Secondly, as said above, the production of conventional solar cells is a costly and technologically complex affair. They also require a lot of space for installation.

New doors in solar technology industry

However, new developments are promising to open new doors in solar technology industry. The printable solar cells could replicate plastics and also used by packaging and fashion industry. Households can get them printed on the roofs and walls and generate electricity for their needs.

Low-cost solar cell

Such electricity will be cheap as the solar cells can be printed on a large scale without involving technological complexities.

What’s Next?

1. MIT printable solar cells


MIT printable solar cells

MIT printable solar cellsPrintable solar cells within reach

What’s new?

Researchers at the Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed this technology to print solar cells on a piece of paper. It resembles a standard inkjet printer and can work on other surfaces like plastics and clothes as well. Unlike the earlier methods of solar cell production, the new technology uses vapors instead of the liquid ink and prints a pattern of rectangular boxes containing solar cells at low temperatures.

What difference it will make?

This technology would allow mass production of low cost solar cells and make the switchover to a renewable energy-based world economy a reality in future. The printable solar cells can be used in place of plastics. This would save a lot of cost and fuel. Also, it would allow the large-scale production of wearable solar cells and used by people to recharge their electronic gadgets as they move out of their houses.


The present prototype of printable solar cell produces very less amount of energy and it would be of no use unless efficiency is increased. It is still an experimental technology and might take years for full commercial application.

2. Australian solar cells with recycled printing machine


Australian Solar Cells With Recycled Printing Machine

Australian Solar Cells With Recycled Printing MachineNew ways of generating zero-emissions electricity using a printing machine to produce solar cells

What’s new?

In a first such attempt, a team of leading Australian researchers and industry partners have embarked on this project to commercially produce low cost solar cells using a printing machine. Low-cost and easily available organic materials would be used for printing solar cells with conventional printing methods. The project has also been supported by the Australian government with an initial grant of $1.7 million for the purpose.

What difference it will make?

Apart for reaffirming Australia’s leadership in the solar industry, this project would open new arenas upon successful completion. The manufacturing of solar cells would become a less cumbersome and low-cost affair. It will provide a forum for the re-application of many used organic materials for the production of solar cells. Also, the technology could be further commercialized for a variety of applications such as coating other materials.


The projects has just started and it might take years for realizing the claims made by researchers and the Australian government.

3. Printable solar panels powering the National Guard


Printable Solar Panels Powering The National Guard

Printable Solar Panels Powering The National GuardNanosolar, which uses an innovative method to get roofs covered with solar panels,

What’s new?

US-based Nanosolar company has developed a nanoparticle ink that can be printed on different surfaces like aluminum sheets, roof tops etc. This process can be carried out cheaply and faster than the other conventional method of producing solar cells.

What difference it will make?

At present the company has been engaged by the US National Guard for installing this thin-film solar panels to reduce its consumption of conventional electricity. As per estimates, an installation of 2,750 Nanosolar Utility Panels could produce up to 538-kilowatts of electricity in a day. This will certainly reduce National Guard’s electricity expenses and be a help for environment. On a larger scale, similar experiments could also be repeated in households and other cities of the world.


The project has been implemented on a very low scale. It is still not popular and requires high initial costs.

Original Article on EcoFriend

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