May 25, 2013
Renewable Energy Is As Easy As Owning An Expensive Printer!
Solar power has been thought to be one of those revolutionary inventions in resource conservation and energy utilization. The solar cells are able to take the energy from the sun and convert that heat into a usable form of energy. There, of course, are draw backs to solar panels.
Originally, solar panels were very ineffective at converting the light energy into usable energy. Great strides have been made in order to improve this and it shows as new silicon solar cells are able to convert almost two thirds of the energy that directed at these solar cells. Even more recent research claims that new solar cells can absorb over 95% of the light energy that is projected on to the solar panel.
There is another drawback to these cells though. Solar cells are very expensive! An energy efficient solar cell sheet can cost upward to 1000 dollars for consumers. Over time, the benefits of the solar cell will eventually surpass the initial costs of the solar cell, but this enormous cost is what drives many people away from going the solar cell direction. If you guessed by now that I’m going to mention something that has fixed this problem too, then you are right.
Australian scientists have recently brought us closer to a cheaper and accessible way of creating solar cells. What is even more astonishing is the fact they are able to make these solar cells organic! They are able to literally print these sheets of solar cells. They are able to use a special printer that prints 10 meter sheets of this flexible solar cell. These sheets act just like paper. In fact, the scientists decided to test these sheets in the best possible way, by making a paper airplane out of it and making it fly! Not only did it fly, it absorbed energy while it flew.
Now, the one big drawback from printable solar cells is that they are still inefficient. In order to effectively power a MacBook Pro, a two meter by two meter piece of printed solar cell would be needed.
This doesn’t mean this new technology isn’t applicable though. The flexibility and portability of these new cells may cause the next craze for organic solar cells on people’s houses. These solar cells are able to contour to many different surfaces and are easy to create. These solar cells would easily be able to cover a house and help home owners save money by using the energy that is gathered from the cells.
Unfortunately, an average Joe won’t be able to print these sheets just yet. The printer that creates these printed sheets of solar cells has a hefty price tag of $199,400 USD. So, unless you are willing to put off saving for that, awesome, new Lamborghini and use it on this exciting printer, I would say you are out of luck at getting one of these fancy printers. Don’t fret though; a 500 million dollar grant was just given out to expand on solar energy and ideas that surround solar cell printing. What could be next? Painting these solar cells on to your house?
P.S. The answer is yes to the very last question.
Image Credit: Ase / Shutterstock