The Australian Federal and Victorian State Governments have announced a joint $3.5 million funding initiative aimed at further developing plastic solar cells currently being produced in Victoria.


Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O’Brien and his Commonwealth counterpart Martin Ferguson today announced the new round of funding for the Organic Solar Cells Project from the Victorian Government Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne.


Scientists from the University of Melbourne, CSIRO and Monash University produced the flexible, plastic solar cells, printed with a light sensitive ink to convert sunlight into energy. The new grant will allow the development of new materials and devices for the printing process, enabling production of inexpensive, mass produced solar panels.


With an aim to produce prototype solar cells printed on plastic and steel substrates within three years, the researchers have teamed up with industry partners including BlueScope Steel, Innovia Films and Robert Bosch South East Asia to expand the activities of the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC).


Dr David Jones from the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne and Program Coordinator at VICOSC said the funding will bring Victoria one step closer to achieving a sustainable future.


“The implementation of environmentally-friendly power, such as solar electricity, is becoming increasingly important for Australia as we strive to meet current and future carbon dioxide reduction targets. The grant, announced today, recognises the viability of this new technology and will help to make it commercially available,” said Dr Jones.


“We expect the new solar cells to drastically increase the use of solar electricity in Australia. As the cost of producing solar panels significantly decreases, the technology will become more accessible. Our aim is to make solar cells cost-effective, so that it’s a logical choice to use solar energy rather than any other sort of energy.”