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got an inkjet printer? print solar cells


People are coming up with creative ways to lower the cost of solar cells through manufacturing efficiencies. Traditional crystalline based solar panels have an intensive manufacturing process which requires silicon to be grown and it quite a complex process which increases the cost per watt. Recently National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has been investing in solar inkjet and sprayer systems, equipment which allows a manufacturer to print photovoltaic material right onto a substrate thus greatly reducing the cost and time it takes to produce solar cells.

By inkjet technology I mean similar to inkjet printers, solar photovoltaic material can be deposited onto a substrate with minimal material usage and waste through use of a digitally controlled process. I’ve read some articles in the past about a university student that basically modified a standard inkjet printer to print very low efficiency solar cells that actually produced a small electrical charge!

Obviously we are far away from being able to print solar cells in our own homes, but the concept can be revolutionary especially in the developing word. We could one day take an inkjet printer into an Afican village and print solar cells right at the point of use and change the lives of the billions of people who have no access to clean energy.

Author: Deep Patel

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