Super-skinny solar cells soak up the sun

 solar panel

The cost of producing solar panels could be sliced by more than 60% thanks to technology being developed by Australian researchers.

Professor Andrew Blakers, director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University, says ‘sliver technology’ could reduce the price of solar power to below the current retail price of electricity.

And he says this could make it cost-effective for householders to buy solar panels rather than electricity from the grid.

Blakers described the latest refinements in the technology at the Australian Institute of Physics conference in Brisbane.

The system works by taking a standard solar cell about 1 millimetre thick and cutting it into tiny slices that are just 120 micrometres wide.

“Imagine a standard solar cell is a loaf of bread. When you put it out in the sun it generates energy based on its surface area,” Blakers says.

“Now imagine you cut that loaf up into slices and lay them horizontally. You get a lot more surface area.”

This technique allows researchers to use much smaller amounts of expensive silicon to generate the same amount of electricity.

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