The sun provides a huge amount of energy for us. In fact more energy hits the surface of the Earth in one hour than we consume in a whole year.
While this source of energy has incredible potential to power our future cities, at the moment the vast majority of it goes uncaptured. Imagine a world where we can actually collect this energy. A world where every surface is being used to generate electricity. There would be solar panels all throughout our cities – lining skyscraper windows, on the tops of buildings, bus shelters, the roofs of cars and embedded in the bags and clothing that people are carrying around and wearing.
Believe it or not, this reality is closer than you think.
We’re developing new printable solar cells that are flexible, light weight and are so thin that they can cover most surfaces. This new technology is allowing us to use solar power in different ways than we can with existing hard, rigid silicon solar panels. We’re already working with industry to explore applications like roofing materials. What’s even more exciting is that this technology will lead us to energy generation sources that we haven’t even imagined yet.
These lightweight solar cells are being featured at Think Ahead, a new permanent exhibition at Melbourne’s Scienceworks Museum. With more than 200 museum objects from the past, the present and the speculative future, Think Ahead blends innovative technology with hands-on experiences to inspire you to research, think creatively and share your ideas.
Can’t make it to the exhibition? Watch this video of our flexible solar cell researcher Dr Scott Watkins describing his vision for the city of the future.
Visit the Scienceworks website or read more about our flexible solar cell research.