Australia Backs Solar Manufacturing Operation

The Australian government is supporting a process that may drop the price of solar energy.

QUEANBEYAN, Australia, AU, 2001-05-03 <> The world’s first Titania Dye solar cell manufacturing operation has been opened in Queanbeyan, near the capital of Canberra, by Sustainable Technologies International. The $12 million project has received a $1 million grant from the federal Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program. Titania Dye solar cells generate electricity in low light, shade and varying temperatures, and developers claim the technology has the capacity to provide low cost solar energy supplies to buildings and remote areas, as well as providing significant environmental benefits. Development of the Australian technology is an excellent example of Australian innovation and the success of the government’s package of greenhouse response measures, says Senator Nick Minchin, Minister for Industry, Science & Resources. He wants developing countries to be engaged in the Kyoto Protocol process that calls for the reduction of greenhouse gases. “The Commonwealth Government is committed to meeting its international greenhouse obligations,” he says. “If developing countries are not involved, Australia and other developed nations will lose industry and jobs offshore as companies relocate to avoid greenhouse restrictions.” The Opposition party in Australia wants to ratify the protocol, despite the announcement from the United States that President George Bush will not sign the global treaty. The global market for PV solar panels last year was $A2 billion, and industry forecasts predict the market will be $5 billion by 2010. Australian production is 7 MW, of which half is exported. Last year, the Australian government published the Renewable Energy Industry Action Agenda, which included a target of annual sales for the RE industry of $4 billion by 2010. Titania Dye technology can produce low power cells to operate consumer and professional products, or solar tile modules to compete in the PV market for facia and daylighting panels for building integration. For maximum power output, they can be opaque, or transparent for daylighting. Further research will allow panels to be windows that can generate electricity. The solar technology enjoys performance advantages over other PV cells, claim company officials, including the ability to perform well in low light and shade, and to perform consistently well over a wide range of temperatures compared with silicon solar. The basic titania cell consists of a sandwich of TiO2, dye, electrolyte and catalyst between two conductive transparent electrodes. Upon illumination of the cell, charge separation occurs by electron injection from the excited state dye molecule into the conduction band of TiO2. The dye is then oxidized by a redox electrolyte. Light excites the dye, sending an electron to be picked up and transmitted by the semiconducting Titania Dioxide TiO2 to become electrical energy.

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