Tech billionaires and former PM again ‘game-changer’ photo voltaic startup

Changing the silver in photo voltaic panels with cheaper and extra plentiful copper may ship extra inexpensive and environment friendly rooftop photo voltaic to shoppers, based on a Sydney-based startup aiming to show Australia right into a photo voltaic manufacturing powerhouse.

SunDrive’s ambition to develop into a number one producer of copper photo voltaic panels in Australia has attracted the curiosity of a few of the nation’s most outstanding backers of renewable power, together with Mike Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the household of Canva co-founder Cameron Adams.

All of them participated in a current $21 million capital elevating, which was led by enterprise capital agency Essential Sequence and the government-owned Clear Vitality Finance Company to assist SunDrive get large-scale manufacturing able to promote its panels in 18 months.

Turnbull described SunDrive’s use of copper as a substitute of photo voltaic as “a possible game-changer” within the world race to provide extra environment friendly and scalable photo voltaic know-how.

SunDrive’s David Hu, left, and Vince Allen. Credit score:

The photo voltaic trade at present accounts for round 10 per cent of worldwide silver demand, with the Worldwide Vitality Company estimating that might attain 30 per cent if the world accelerates alongside its path to net-zero.

“Individuals within the scientific neighborhood have realised for a really very long time that silver is unsustainable,” stated SunDrive co-founder Vince Allen, who devoted his PhD to discovering a technique to substitute silver with copper after changing into within the conundrum throughout his undergraduate diploma.

Underneath the steerage of supervisor Alison Lennon and photo voltaic engineering pioneer Stuart Wenham, Allen discovered a technique to make copper ‘stick’ to photovoltaic panels, a breakthrough that had eluded researchers for years.

However somewhat than proceed along with his PhD, which might ultimately require sharing his findings with the general public, he took the mental property he’d developed to his storage and co-founded SunDrive with former flatmate David Hu.

By reducing out silver, which Allen estimates accounts for about half the price of making photo voltaic cells, the pair have created a product which might compete with top-line panels manufactured in China each on worth and effectivity: SunDrive says its panels convert greater than 25 per cent of obtained daylight into energy, a world document when it was independently examined in September 2021. By comparability, trade normal panels on most suburban rooftops convert about 20 per cent.

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