(EnergyAsia, February 26, Thursday) — Australia’s science and technology agency CSIRO has launched a trial as a member of the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) to develop flexible, large area and cost-effective printable plastic solar cells.

The three year A$12 million VICOSC solar cell project is 50% funded by the Victoria state government through an energy technology innovation grant.

VICOSC includes researchers from the CSIRO Future Manufacturing Flagship, University of Melbourne, Monash University, with industry partners Securency, BP Solar, Bluescope Steel and Merck.

The trial at Securency International, a banknote printing company, was recently flagged off by Victoria state’s Minister for Energy and Resources, Peter Batchelor.

He said: “The production of these film-like solar cells will be literally as easy as printing money.

“These solar cells are cutting edge technology and offer advantages over traditional solar technology because of the potential to mass produce the cells cheaply and install them over large areas such as rooftops.

“The technology used for these cells is still in its infancy, but this project aims to speed up the development of this technology and take it from research to rooftops as quickly as possible.”

CSIRO has helped assembled a team of leading scientists in chemistry, physics and materials science to develop the molecular building blocks which will form the basis of this solar energy revolution.

The Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr said: “This research is at the forefront of polymer technology, which has already brought to the world the banknotes used in Australia and 21 other countries. It is an important step in building up the solar industry in Australia.

“To be able to manufacture flexible, organic solar cells which are ‘printed’ on to polymer in much the same way as money is made, quickly and cheaply, has enormous potential.

“The trial could also lay the ground work for a world leading Australian industry in printable electronics.”

CSIRO executive Steve Morton said the technology for the solar cells was the result of work by its researchers on advanced polymers.

“This research will act as a catalyst to the creation of world-leading Australian businesses in the field of printable electronics.”