Human settlements

Renewable energy

Solar photovoltaics 12: Establishment of the Titania solar tiles and wall panels manufacturing facility

Renewable Energy Commercialisation in Australia, Australian Greenhouse Office, 2003
NOTE: The status of these projects will have changed since the time of publication, and project contacts may also have changed.

STA is manufacturing solar tiles and wall panels using titania solar cells, which it has identified as having a number of commercially viable advantages over silicon solar cells.

A project that promises to advance the commercial viability of solar cell technology has been completed, with the assistance of a $1 million grant under the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program.

Sustainable Technologies Australia (STA) has commissioned the world's first titania solar cell and wall panels manufacturing facility, located at Queanbeyan in southern New South Wales. STA has the only licence in Australia and the South-East Asian region for this new-generation solar technology, which was developed in Switzerland. STA has itself developed and patented designs and manufacturing processes.

Titania solar cell technology is a promising advance for specific applications in photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. It is a completely different technology from that used in the production of silicon solar cells.

The cells are made by assembling layers of the semiconductor titanium dioxide (TiO2), a light-sensitive dye, an electrolyte and a catalyst between two transparent conductive glass plates. When light shines on the cell, the dye is energised and releases an electron that is picked up by the (TiO2). The electrolyte regenerates the dye after it gives off its charge, while the catalyst supplies the electron to the electrolyte.

PV solar cell technology is the most direct way of converting solar energy to electricity, but high manufacturing costs have inhibited the growth of the solar cell market. STA has identified a number of advantages of titania solar cells, compared with silicon solar cell technology. Unlike conventional silicon cells, performance is maintained in shady conditions and the power output improves as the temperature increases. Also, light from all directions can be absorbed, and titania cells can use cheaper manufacturing processes than crystalline silicon cells.

The major applications for titania solar cells are in the building industry where solar tile modules can be integrated into the building structure and low-powered consumer and professional products.

The first stage of the manufacturing facility is capable (at peak capacity) of producing 500kW of titania solar cells and wall panels annually. Production and rigorous testing of an initial batch of 100 square metres of titania solar wall panels has also been completed. STA aims to develop the facility to eventually produce 40,000 square metres of titania solar cells annually, which would produce 2,500kW at peak capacity.

The establishment of the Australian manufacturing facility will result in direct and significant greenhouse savings. Calculations show that every 100 square metres of installed titania solar wall panels will contribute direct annual greenhouse gas savings of 10.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide. STA estimates that the output of the proposed 2,500kW facility would provide annual savings of 3,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

For more information please contact

Sylvia Tulloch
Sustainable Technologies International Pty Ltd
(also trading as Sustainable Technologies Australia)
PO Box 6212
Queanbeyan NSW 2620
Tel (02) 6299 1592
Fax (02) 6299 1698

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