Flexible photovoltaic panels, the future of renewables

Flexible photovoltaic panels, the future of renewables

Companies that produce flexible photovoltaic panels, which are also portable, small and sold in rolls, have multiplied in recent years

In this article you’ll learn the ultimate evolution in flexible photovoltaic panels.

With the increase of solar energy throughout the world, there is growing awareness of the great advantages it offers:

  • it allows buildings to guarantee high energy efficiency with consequent cost savings
  • it is synonymous with sustainability and respect for the environment, making it possible to abandon polluting energy sources
  • it allows autonomy from large distributors and electricity networks, making these technologies portable and easily transportable
  • it guarantees high performance in terms of: life span, resistance to shocks and atmospheric agents, flexibility of use.

The incredible development of this sector, and the immense potential yet to be exploited, is leading many companies to invest in these technologies in terms of research and development.

One of the goals is to continuously improve the efficiency of solar cells, making them more durable, smaller and applicable to everyday situations such as the power supply to phones, vehicles, and other devices.

A solution that scientists and engineers have come up with, to make it easier to spread, is the ability of new cells to flex and bend around objects. Flexible solar cells thus become real sheets, which can also be sold in rolls.

Flexible photovoltaic panels, the future of renewables


In this way they can be adapted to objects and devices that previously were not compatible with the classic rigid solar cells, such as those used in residential and commercial solar panels.

Applications and advantages

Let’s look at some applications.

The first examples of “non-flat” solar cells are to be found in the construction of photovoltaic systems on building roofs in historic centres (solar tiles) or on curved roofs. However, these panels were still rigid, even if with curved shape.

Today, thanks to flexible cells, the new-generation solar panels adapt to all types of coverings, of any shape and of any material.

Flexible photovoltaic panels, the future of renewables


In large metropolis they are already widely diffused also as coverings for the vertical walls of buildings and skyscrapers, thus overcoming the difficulty of finding large horizontal surfaces where they can be installed. In fact, the few flat surfaces on the top of buildings are often occupied by other systems (air conditioning, fire protection, radio / TV antennas, etc.).

Flexible photovoltaic panels, the future of renewables


The radical innovation offered by this technology is in the “transportability“, since these panels / cells are light weight and therefore portable: it is possible to take them on the road, in camping and in inaccessible areas, they can also be mounted on all means of transport, from boats to bicycles.

This way you can have an energy source anywhere, to be used to charge portable batteries or power any electronic device.

Flexible photovoltaic panels, the future of renewables


Continuous research has also allowed us to put on the market sheets with solar cells of any size and light weight, the best performing ones can even be applied like adhesives on any surface!


Additionally, this type of flexible panel uses high-efficiency ultra-thin silicon layers superimposed on each other to form the photovoltaic cell, a technology that has been used for years but continues to evolve.

Flexible photovoltaic panels, the future of renewables


Scientists from around the world are working on the main weaknesses of these innovative cells:

  • production costs, which, although decreasing, are still an obstacle to their competitiveness on the market. To reduce the cost of production, flexible solar panels must be manufactured using roll-to-roll processing, which means that they must be produced on a flexible plastic or a metal sheet that can be rolled up. One method of achieving this is through ink-jet printing, which would allow the dye and electrolyte components to be inserted into the foil.
  • the lifetime of the modules. It is important that the amount of energy produced by a flexible solar cell over its lifetime is greater than the amount needed to produce and transport the same solar cell. If this were not the case, then the solar cell in question could not be considered a renewable resource.

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