PV Breakthrough from Down Under

A joint venture between the Australian National University and Origin Energy has developed a new type of solar cell with the potential to revolutionize the global solar power industry.

Melbourne, Australia – December 3, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Director of the ANU Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, Professor Andrew Blakers unveiled the Sliver Cell, which uses just one tenth of the costly silicon used in conventional solar panels while matching power, performance and efficiency, he said. “A solar panel using Sliver Cell technology needs the equivalent of two silicon wafers to convert sunlight to 140 W of power. By comparison, a conventional solar panel needs about 60 silicon wafers to achieve this performance. By dramatically reducing the amount of expensive pure silicon, the largest cost in solar panels today, this new technology represents a major advance in solar power technology,” Blakers said. “Origin Energy has worked with ANU’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems for several years, investing more than AUD$6 million (US$3.35 million) in research to discover a way to harness the sun’s power at much lower cost,” said Origin Energy’s Executive General Manager, Generation, Andrew Stock. “Due to the economy and flexibility of Sliver Cells, we believe this technology will play an important role in the future wide-spread adoption of solar power. Sliver Cell technology is an excellent example of the way Australian researchers can work with Australian industry to innovate a product that leads the world.” The Sliver Cell is a radically different concept in photovoltaics, produced using special micro-machining techniques, then assembled into solar panels using similar methods to those used to make conventional solar panels. The new technology reduces costs in two main ways – by using much less expensive silicon for similar efficiency and power output, and needing less capital to build a solar panel plant of similar capacity.
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