A team of scientists from the University of Newcastle in Australia will be using a Tesla Model 3 as a means to test printed solar panels that they believe could be the next big thing in affordable, sustainable solutions. The group plans to use printed solar panels to power the Tesla Model 3 in a grand 9,400-mile journey across Australia in September.
The project, which is dubbed Charge Around Australia, is made possible through a partnership between the UK company Charging Around Britain Ltd and the University of Newcastle. The initiative aims to demonstrate that printed solar panel technology could be used to generate renewable energy for off-grid electric vehicle charging.
For the journey, the Charge Around Australia would be using 18 of the group’s printed plastic solar panels, each 59 feet long. The printed solar panels would be rolled out beside the Tesla Model 3 to soak up the sunlight. This system would enable the all-electric sedan to complete its 9,400-mile journey using only energy that’s gathered from the sun.
Paul Dastoor, the inventor of the printed solar panel technology, noted that the team from the University of Newcastle would not just be testing the endurance of the printed solar panels during the 9,400-mile trip. They would also be looking into the technology’s potential for applications beyond electric vehicle charging.
“This is actually an ideal testbed to give us information about how we would go about using and powering technology in other remote locations, for example, in space,” Dastoor said.
Considering that the Tesla Model 3 would be charging from the sun, the vehicle’s journey would be long. The team plans to complete its 9,400-mile journey in 84 days, with the group visiting 70 schools in the process. By doing so, the team from the University of Newcastle hopes that students in Australia could get a taste of what a renewable future potentially holds.
The printed solar panels that would be used in Charge Around Australia are quite disruptive on their own. Since the solar panels are printed using conventional printers, they are extremely affordable to make. They are also extremely lightweight and thin, making them very flexible and portable if needed. Dastoor explained the technology’s potential in one of Charge Around Australia’s videos.
“We can look at applications where we can cover them across vast areas, and because they’re printed, at really low cost. So imagine a world where every building, every structure, has a coating on it that generates power. That’s the potential of this technology,” he said.