Solar panels could soon be made with their own embedded battery storage in what is an Australian global first.
Batteries would be laminated to the back of the panels and deliver “in-built” storage, making it eventually standard for them to deliver energy day or night as required.
It’s one of several plans for ultra-thin, flexible screen-printed batteries that could eventuate within three years and offer new opportunities for manufacturing.
Currently companies such as Tesla and South Australia’s Redflow offer solar panel and battery solutions, but the batteries are separate entities. If this idea takes hold, printed-on storage could be part of an ordinary solar panel.
Because they can be printed in any shape, printed batteries could also power electronic skin treatment patches and other wearable technology.
The project is being undertaken by Printed Energy Pty Ltd, an investee company within the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund, in collaboration with two of Australia’s leading universities in the field of energy storage and materials science, the University of Queensland and the University of New South Wales.
Printed Energy is the principal financial backer. It is providing $1.5 million in direct funding for the project, and $6 million in-kind assistance.
Trevor St Baker, founder of ERM Power and the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund, said printed batteries could transform everyday life.
“Unlike traditional batteries, the printed battery can be any shape required for the specific application, such as wearable electronics and medical and healthcare products such as skin treatment patches,” he said.
“It’s literally the printing of solid state batteries in a thin, flexible format that can be adapted to almost any shape.”
He said printed batteries would transform solar generation from day time energy generation to night time energy delivery.
The $12 million project has also received another shot in the arm: a $2 million grant from the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects scheme.
University of NSW Dean Mark Hoffman hailed the breakthrough as delivering the missing piece of the puzzle for renewable energy.
“The world is crying out for storage solutions, and this partnership has the potential to deliver on that urgent need. What’s exciting is that this technology also has immediate applications in wearables and small-scale devices.”
Chris Greig, director of The University of Queensland Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation and the UQ Energy Initiative is enthused about how the technology could transform Australian manufacturing.
This article was originally published by The Australian.