CSIRO is part of a consortium that’s working to develop a series of low-cost solar technologies to help meet the rising energy demand across the world.

The Victorian Organic Solar Cell (VICOSC) Consortium is a research collaboration between CSIRO, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, Bluescope Steel, Innovia Films, Innovia Security and Robert Bosch SEA, with funding support from the Victorian State Government and the Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Printable solar cells

The consortium has developed flexible and lightweight printable solar cells, wherein printable ‘solar inks’ are deposited onto flexible plastic films using various techniques including spray coating, reverse gravure, slot-die coating and screen printing.

Organic photovoltaics (OPV) and dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSC)

Offering greater flexibility and affordability, these technologies are different from traditional, silicon-based solar cells. Being lightweight and flexible, solar panels can be integrated into windows, window furnishings, rooftops and even consumer packaging. Being affordable, these solar cells can provide for the energy needs of remote outback locations and developing communities.

Key outcomes of the research collaboration:

Pilot-scale production is now ready for expansion.

New organic materials and solar cell device architectures have been developed to achieve power conversion efficiencies of around 9 per cent on small-scale devices.

The consortium’s pilot-scale, roll-to-roll printing lines have successfully fabricated 10 x 10 centimetre flexible solar modules, while larger solar modules up to A3 size are also being printed.

Further development into hybrid organic-inorganic solar inks has significantly advanced the performance of large-area printed solar cells.

The consortium can now produce pilot-scale quantities for incorporation into a wide range of prototypes.

The low barriers to entry mean this technology can provide new opportunities for Australian manufacturing, opening up new markets and new jobs.