— Around The Home
Flexible Cells to expand Solar Energy applications
Building facades, roof tiles and car bonnets could soon incorporate colourful, pliable solar panels to supplement their conventional power sources. Spheral Solar Power have produced flexible, efficient solar cells that produce electricity at a lower cost and open up an array of new applications for renewable energy.
The denim-like material consists of thousands of tiny silicon beads bonded in aluminium foil - each bead acts like an individual solar cell and the uneven surface offers a larger area for light collection. Production costs can be kept down through the use of recycled silicon and this, coupled with efficiency comparable to standard photovoltaic cells and the versatility of a flexible material gives Spheral Solar Cells the potential to dramatically expand the use of renewable energy.
Building design can draw on hundreds of shapes, styles and colours to seamlessly integrate the solar cells. The Spheral cells can be used to reflect light from or transmit light into the building and their versatility extends to use in corporate logos.
In roof tiles the cell can be incorporated into a curved substrate opening up a range of market applications and automobile manufacturers may have found an aerodynamic alternative to rigid photovoltaic cells that are impractical in terms of vehicle design.
Commercial production of the flexible cells expected to begin in late 2003.
About the Author
Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks.
All articles by Mike Hanlon
Pliable solar panels are expected to pervade in solar applications. It is amazing to find the size of Solar Energy Research and scientists commitment to achieve major breakthroughs in solar energy mass utilisation in Developed countries.
I\'d like to see sailcloth with PV capabilities... it would sure be great to have little or no fuel onboard, and generate all needed power, including auxiliary propulsion, via solar and wind power.
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