promoting solar films as an adaptable ‘green’ innovation
our follow final round-up It would not be wrong to say that ‘green energy’, among the most effective renewable energy solutions of 2022, has taken giant steps forward. Beyond offering cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels, the latest innovations also focus on accessibility, adaptability and flexibility in different sectors such as agriculture, architecture and transportation.
An example of this evolution in the renewable energy sector is solar film, a relatively new product developed by European firms such as German brand Heliatek and French company Solar Cloth. while there is solar panels They provide an excellent source of clean energy, with their rigid frame preventing them from fitting on most surfaces — leaving ‘almost 98% of all global existing roof surfaces […] It is not used for solar power generation. There is now enormous locked-in potential that we can tap into with our solar films.,’ writes Heliatek.
Flexible, lightweight and easy to install, these formable “panels” have the same performance as traditional solar structures and take interesting variations.
image courtesy of Heliatek
heliatek: using organic photovoltaic technology
Heliatek’s ready-to-use film HeliaSol has been installed in buildings across the country and the world since 2017. From a school to a wind turbine tower and logistics facility, the product can cover facades or become part of the roof structure, covering much more surface than conventional panels can and therefore generating more and more energy day by day.
Designed like a sticker, solar film is ultra-thin, flexible and customizable, weighing just a few grams. It can be installed on large surfaces in just a few hours. Performance-wise, the film can generate 85 W/m² and leaves an ultra-low carbon footprint of less than 10 g CO2e/kW. This makes it one of the greenest clean energy solutions available. ‘The electricity produced from our solar films is 50 times greener than the grid mix and 100 times greener than coal-fired electricity generation.,’ German brand continues.
HeliaSol covers a wind turbine tower | image courtesy of Heliatek
To produce the film, the company resorts to organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology, in which light is converted into electricity using semiconductor materials. ‘The organic bulk in our solar films is made up of many separate layers, but its total thickness is less than a thousandth of a millimeter. As a result, our solar films have unique properties: they are ultra-light, flexible, ultra-thin and truly green. This makes them an excellent choice for all surfaces and applications where conventional PV modules do not fit, where additional cost is required for mounting structures, or where building codes do not allow it.,’ explains the company.
In addition to HeliaSol, the German brand has launched HeliaFilm, an equally light and flexible roll of adhesive film. Its applications are almost limitless as it can adhere to glass, concrete and metal. Heliatek is particularly interested in developing Heliafilm for greater glass integration by playing on variations in color and transparency.
Heliatek’s product can be used on facades or roofs | image courtesy of Heliatek
Solar Cloth: CIGS-based photovoltaic films
Another brand that has made its way in this sector is Solar Cloth, based in France. In October 2019, company launched the helical M170 solar film model with encapsulated cells. With a thickness of 0.5 mm and a power of 170W/m2, the product can be applied to all round or flat surfaces. In terms of materials, the M170 also includes photovoltaic textiles – but this time created using CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium and Selenium) technology. Moreover, this technique is largely based on material recycling and adds a greater ‘green’ touch to the company’s invention.
According to Solar Cloth, CIGS-based technology has achieved a yield of 17.2% with lower production costs for the first time on a roll-up textile basis.
M170 rollable solar film | Image courtesy of Solar Cloth