Thin Film Solar Panels are made up of a lightweight and flexible material which can be rolled up and easily transported. They are therefore very useful as a source of portable solar power.
Any person who has ever used a solar-powered calculator has had “hands on” experience with Thin Film Photovoltaics. This technology has been with us for years, creating the strips which are used to power calculators
This photovoltaic technology has now evolved to a point where we can mass-produce solar panels, through the use of machines not unlike printing presses.
The substance which is used to print these photovoltaic panels is called “solar ink.”
Solar ink can be made in any color. In fact, it is possible to design the inks in such a way as to make use of different parts of the light spectrum.
Solar presses “print out” thin panels called “solar rolls.” These rolls are13 inches wide, and can be up to 2400 feet long. They can be cut to the required size, after the solar ink has been printed onto them.
The electrical connections in the roll are automatically welded in by laser. This procedure reduces the construction time considerably, as compared to the time required to construct conventional solar panels.
Once this technology reaches a cost-effectiveness of $1.00 per watt, its prices will be competitive with those of conventional fossil fuels. TFPV is rapidly approaching this benchmark, and could possibly beat it in the near future.
Solar ink can be printed onto fabrics, plastics and metals, allowing one to design panels for a wide range of products, each tailored to their specific needs.
Thin and flexible photovoltaic solar panels are not as effective as solid panels. It’s the fact that they are so much cheaper and lighter than conventional solar panels, that gives them the “edge”.
The U.S. military is extremely interested in the development of thin-film solar technology, and spent 1.seven million dollars on one laboratory last year, to facilitate the development of Thin Film Photovoltaics. The US government is interested in implementing this technology in troop communication devices, which can reduce the heat signatures which are created when troops use conventional generators.
Solar shades and tents are now available, using thin film photovoltaics, which provide up to 2kw of power. This allows them to operate laptops, communication devices, TVs, and much more.
Thin film photovoltaic devices are now widely available on the consumer market.
A flexible solar panel weighing less than a pound is now capable of recharging a laptop. Due to its flexibility, it can be rolled up and transported easily.
Flexible photovoltaic panels are also a realistic source of emergency power. They are a handy and economic addition to emergency preparedness kits and wilderness survival kits.
Current research on Thin Film Photovoltaics is aimed at increasing the power output of these panels. If this research achieves this goal, there is a very good possibility that we will have solved the problem cheap and clean renewable energy.