ANU-invented solar tech helps University reduce emissions

7 February 2018

The Australian National University (ANU) will help reduce its carbon footprint and its reliance on the electricity grid with the installation of ANU-invented solar panels on the rooftops of seven buildings around campus.

The 1,700 'sliver-cell' solar panels around ANU, including 600 on the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) building, will provide about 265 kilowatts of electricity - enough to power around 60 households.

The installation of the solar panels is due to be completed by the middle of the year.

Professor Andrew Blakers, Associate Professor Klaus Weber and Dr Matthew Stocks from the ANU Research School of Engineering invented the sliver cell technology.

Sliver technology uses a novel process to achieve high efficiencies and reduce the amount of expensive silicon in solar cells, using about one tenth the amount of silicon compared with conventional cells.

"The breakthrough idea was making solar cells from the volume of the silicon wafer, rather than just using the surface," said Dr Weber, who was the lead researcher.

"This has helped to significantly decrease the cost of the cells, while at the same time it made the panels lighter and thinner."

ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury has inspected the solar panels on the NCI building and praised ANU for its contribution to clean energy and solar technology.

"Canberra has got a great reputation for building a renewable energy hub, and ANU is a central part of that story," he said.

Director of the ANU Energy Change Institute Professor Ken Baldwin said the University was committed to reducing its environmental footprint by encouraging the use of clean energy.

"The University is looking at all options, including introducing onsite renewable energy generation across all ANU campuses and  incorporating renewable energy generation into all new building developments," he said.