Using printed solar technology for off-grid electric car charging on a journey around the coast of Australia
More than a billion people around the world today have no reliable access to electricity. This means that around one in seven people cannot refrigerate food or medicines. They are without a dependable source of electricity to power vital hospital equipment and lack clean, safe energy for cooking and lighting in their homes.
Expanding access to reliable electricity sources via low-cost sustainable energy such as solar power can reduce poverty and inequality. Limiting fossil fuel use can slow climate change.
We passionately believe advances in solar power technology can revolutionise the sustainable energy market making it more accessible to everyone – especially in the most remote parts of the world. Charge Around Australia demonstrates that printed solar technology can generate renewable energy for off-grid electric car charging on a drive around the coast of the country.
Charge Around Australia is a partnership between the UK company Charging Around Britain Ltd and the University of Newcastle, Australia. The project is a challenge to drive an electric vehicle, powered by solar energy, some 9,380 miles (15,097km) around the entire coastline of Australia.
On the journey, we are using portable printed solar cell panels to enable off-grid electric car charging. This innovative solar technology enables us to harvest free energy from the sun in wilderness stretches along the route where established charging stations are unavailable.
The technology, known as organic photovoltaics (OPV), is integral to the lightweight solar cells panels that have been developed by Professor Paul Dastoor and his pioneering OPV team at the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Organic Electronics.
The project can demonstrate the capability of the portable solar panels to function successfully on this challenging trip and consequently help to dispel the ‘range anxiety’ currently associated with long-distance journeys in electric vehicles.
Find out more about the team and this exciting new technology here:
We are doing much more than just driving. Our project is also designed to educate and support people and organisations, including schools. We are highlighting that the future of sustainable power generation for transport and our wider energy requirements relies on new technology. Our project includes challenges, experiments, interviews and research, as well as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Roadshow.
The STEM Roadshow is visiting remote, rural and regional schools and communities across six Australian states and territories. Students are interacting with our roadshow team who can inspire them by explaining the science behind solar technology and the Charge Around Australia project.
In addition to the electric car that we are driving around Australia on the journey, we are also using a support vehicle. The latter is doubling up as the team’s mobile home and acting as a field station in which we can run experiments and gather data.
To date, he has undertaken two successful ‘Charge Around’ challenges to disprove the ‘range anxiety’ associated with electric vehicles, one around the coast of the UK, the other around Iceland’s coastline.
Stuart will research the Charge Around Australia route, identifying key charging stations and stopping off points that offer significant educational and commercial opportunities. He will be the lead driver for the trip.
BA degree in Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge
Paul is a physicist and solar energy researcher at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
He has been researching plastics known as semiconducting polymers since the mid-1990s. By breaking these materials down into tiny particles, he has developed a method of suspending them in water and subsequently of producing solar ink or paint that can be printed onto surfaces.
He is currently Director of the Centre for Organic Electronics, which he established at the University of Newcastle, Australia in 2007. The innovative printed solar panels that Paul and his team have developed have the potential to revolutionise sustainable energy generation.
Paul will co-ordinate the research and manage the entire development and installation for the project.
Master’s degree in administration, School of Health Service Administration, University of New South Wales (Australia)
Thilo is a retired health scientist with a multi-faceted career in health and medical research administration. He held senior positions in the academic, government and non-governmental sectors, including roles in the former Australian Cancer Society (now Cancer Council Australia), The Cochrane Collaboration, The University of Cologne, and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing (now Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care).
Prior to this, Thilo qualified as an upholsterer and decorator, served three years in the German Army (Bundeswehr), worked on major hydro-electric infrastructure projects in Australia, and retrained as a registered nurse (Germany/Australia).
For several years, Thilo worked as an independent contractor in the field of knowledge brokerage (health/medical) and in the Gig Economy (food rescue, Uber ride-share, courier services).
More recently, Thilo is a contented ‘house husband’ and often explores Australia on two and four wheels.
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