About photovoltaics

Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells are devices that convert light into electricity at the atomic level. They are designed using materials that behave in a particular way when exposed to light. Firstly, sunlight causes electrons in the material to be released from their bindings with the atomic structure. Clever cell design then causes them to flow in just one direction across the cell, where they build up and become available for electrical work. If enough cells are connected together in a panel, a useful amount of electricity is produced.

Most of today’s commercially available solar cells are made from high purity silicon, which makes the cells expensive. CSIRO is developing new types of solar cells, including organic (plastic) and dye-sensitised solar cells that will create the next generation of PV technology – they will be lighter, more flexible, attractive and most importantly, cheaper.

For more information please visit the CSIRO Photovoltaics webpage.

4 Comments on “About photovoltaics”

  1. Renewable Energy has been brought to the attention of the public by climate change but whatever your views on this, it makes good sense financially and environmentally.

  2. nicephotog says:

    I see here the Australian government page contains the failed green clean initiative of windmill farms on its front page image.
    However, if you thought that was bad, i recently priced putting practical levels of solar onto a standard house remembering that with the past 30 years development of white-goods for energy efficiency we find those now cost too much. The shock i found is that too actually “off grid” the house at the minimum 5Kw with batteries would for a single system no spare parts, be the same akin to paying of a house and its loan over 10 years. It would cost 10 years of electricity bills with very low ensurance of the devices remaining servicable for 10 years at least of battereis are half of the minimum $14,000 cost DIY for most of it. Worse, at around the same price with “grid tied” inverter system it remains as endangered and unsecure in its environment but is the minimum to halve the electricity bill , and has been chosen by me as the most suitable for a set of relatives(by Kw size) and most households(grid tied) as most are not in a RAPS grey area for remote living as my relatives are.
    What commonly isn’t understood by governments is that price tag and viability of system install. There are only 3 hours in any day part morning and part afternoon in summer when the temperature is below and also around 25 degrees Celsius so the solar panel cells are operating at maximum efficiency. As this previous technical statement suggests there is a lot to simply actually know about using solar so “grid tied” is the closest to “set and forget” because most people will never be an amateur or technician to the technology “that is a pre requirement to self sufficiency ‘off grid’ “. This means any saving a normal household requires in a house with 1 freezer,1 fridge, 1 hot water system and 1 dishwasher, MUST use at least a 5Kw “grid tied” or they are wasting the point of it all, However, it isn’t them that’s wasting it, its the government not seeing the point of only subsidising 5Kw “grid tied” and to a lesser “off grid 5kw or more” for everyone and no other size until there becomes special needs to apply for alike RAPS.
    Just the same as the wind-mill generator FAIL on the green living front page, they have failed to see the cost of components and the bare minimum to bother with economically (3kw may be the minimum to install to a flat unit – but for size and space How?).

  3. Michael van Kampen says:

    From my experience the start up currents are the real hassle; perhaps some softstart techniques formed into modules which can be placed between the item and the power point; so 3kW may be more useful than at first thought; continuous power draw is mainly on things like Elec Stoves, Ovens with 20A and Elec. Kettles with a 10 amp draw so soft start of no benefit, but for fridges, aircond, and such why not?. Alternate energy sources for the former would be the quickest way around that bugbear.
    Cost has an element of greed in it and this needs to be circumvented while still allowing profit for those who manufacture the items, perhaps the patenting legislation needs to be addressed in favour of competition being more quickly established; and competitors still required to provide a % to the patenter, to include any design variation up to 20%.

  4. Mike Brewer says:

    Its great to see the C.S.I.R.O. at the forefront of developing next generation solar panels like orgaic and dye-sensitised. The C.S.I.R.O. really is an ‘unsung hero’ when it comes to this type of research. Given Australia is now sourcing greater than 10 percent of its energy from renewables – a great achievement in itself, i think a lowering in cost of the next gen. solar panels will give the impetus for reaching 20 to 30 percent levels within the next 1- to 20 years. Not only that, but the export potential of these new generation solar panels is huge. Hopefully they can be manufactured here in Australia ?

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