Breakthrough photo voltaic panel startup SunDrive groups up with Sydney College on $2.78 million analysis undertaking

A College of Sydney Professor growing leading edge photo voltaic expertise has acquired $2.78 million in analysis funding from the Australian Renewable Power Company (ARENA) to business the concept in a partnership with Sydney startup SunDrive.

Professor Ho-Baillie, the John Hooke Chair of Nanoscience on the college’s the Faculty of Physics and Sydney Nano Hub, is becoming a member of forces with Sydney-based SunDrive to commercialise superior photo voltaic tech utilizing perovskite-silicon cells.

The analysis undertaking led by Prof. Ho-Baillie, in collaboration with SunDrive, will enhance the business viability of perovskite-silicon tandem photo voltaic cells.

Whereas silicon is the semiconductor materials used presently, perovskites – crystal constructions constituted of mineral compounds – have emerged as a promising various, with the efficiencies of perovskite photo voltaic cells already approaching the silicon model

This undertaking will deal with stacking perovskite on high of silicon to type a tandem photo voltaic cell, reasonably than utilizing silicon by itself.

Ho-Baillie mentioned concept of this stacking is to transform extra power from the solar to electrical energy.

“The effectivity that may be achieved by a perovskite-silicon tandem in a laboratory is now over 30%, whereas the very best effectivity for a silicon cell by itself is slightly below 27% within the laboratory and round 23% commercially,” she mentioned.

“There isn’t a lot room for silicon to enhance as a result of its theoretical restrict is barely 30% – however for perovskite-silicon tandem, it’s 40%.”

The cell design is the “future” of photo voltaic expertise, Ho-Baillie mentioned, nonetheless extra work on the idea is required.

“To make them the principle business possibility, we ne​ed to enhance the sturdiness of those cells – particularly underneath the mixture of thermal and light-weight stress,” she mentioned.

“We additionally have to develop industry-relevant manufacturing processes which are cost-effective.

“Lastly, we have to develop applied sciences of encapsulating and packaging the tandem cells to bigger photo voltaic panels. These panels, not simply the cells themselves, additionally need to be sturdy and extremely environment friendly.”

Different investigators on the undertaking embody Professor David McKenzie, Dr Jianghui Zheng and Dr Arafat Mahmud, from College of Sydney, and SunDrive cofounders Vince Allen and David Hu and Prof. Alison Lennon.

Professor Ho-Baillie additionally leads the College of Sydney’s node of the Australian Centre for Superior Photovoltaics, which lately had its operations prolonged with $45 million in funding from ARENA for photo voltaic PV analysis to 2030.

SunDrive, based in 2015, raised $21 million in a Collection B in October final 12 months. The corporate was cofounded by uni mates Vince Allen and David Hu after Allen developed the concept of utilizing copper as a less expensive various to silver in rooftop photo voltaic panels whereas learning for a PhD.

The brand new cells might be as much as 30% cheaper than present panels. The photo voltaic PV {industry} already makes use of round 10% of the world’s silver, and 20% of complete industrial demand. Copper is sort of 100 instances cheaper than silver and much more plentiful.

SunDrive’s backers embody the CSIRO’s VC fund Principal Sequence Ventures, the federal authorities’s Clear Power Finance Company, Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, Blackbird, Canva founder Cameron Adams, former PM Malcolm Turnbull and Tesla chair Robyn Denholm.

The corporate has been profitable in progressing from lab-scale proof-of-concept to business, full-size photo voltaic panel fabrication and is without doubt one of the solely two corporations on this planet which has demonstrated full-area commercial-size cells with a licensed effectivity above 26%.

Allen, SunDrive’s CEO, mentioned they have been trying ahead to working with Professor Ho-Baillie and her group.

“It’s thrilling that ARENA is supporting this undertaking with the objective of accelerating the event of extra progressive photo voltaic applied sciences corresponding to perovskite silicon tandems,” he mentioned .

ARENA CEO Darren Miller mentioned the funding goes to main universities and researchers in photo voltaic PV.

“Australia’s photo voltaic researchers have helped to make photo voltaic PV the most affordable type of power in historical past, however to create a future wherein Australian photo voltaic power provides the world with clear energy, fuels and merchandise, we have to be bold and drive the price of photo voltaic even decrease,” he mentioned.