Replacing silver in solar panels with cheap and abundant copper will provide consumers with more affordable and efficient rooftop solar, according to a Sydney-based start-up that aims to turn Australia into a solar manufacturing powerhouse. It is possible.
Sundrive’s ambition to become Australia’s leading manufacturer of copper solar panels is driven by some of the country’s most prominent renewable energy companies, including Mike Cannon Brooks’ Glock Ventures, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Canva’s family of partners. attracts the interest of supporters of Founder Cameron Adams.
They all participated in a recent $21 million funding round, led by venture capital firm Main Sequence and the government-owned Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to allow Sundrive to sell the panels in 18 months. We have assisted in the production of
Turnbull described SunDrive’s use of copper instead of silver as a “potential game changer” in the global race to create more efficient and scalable solar technology.
The solar industry currently accounts for about 10% of global silver demand, and the International Energy Agency estimates it could reach 30% if the world accelerates its path to net zero.
“People in the scientific community have realized for a very long time that silver is unsustainable,” said Sundrive co-founder Vince Allen. He became interested in the conundrum during his bachelor’s degree and dedicated his PhD to finding ways to replace silver with copper.
Under the guidance of supervisor Alison Lennon and solar engineering pioneer Stuart Wenham, Allen discovered how to “stick” copper to photovoltaic panels.
But rather than continue with his PhD, which would eventually require him to make his discoveries public, he took the intellectual property he had developed into his garage and co-founded Sundrive with former flatmate David Hu. was established.
By eliminating silver, which makes up about half the cost of making solar cells, Allen estimates, the pair have created a product that can compete with top-tier panels made in China on both price and efficiency. . According to Sundrive, that panel transforms over 25 of his. This is a world record when tested individually in September 2021. By comparison, industry-standard panels on most suburban rooftops convert about 20%.