Solartek has patented an ultra-light mounting system for the next-generation thin-film solar cells.
The new system developed by Solartek is designed for the installation of flexible thin-film solar cells on curved surfaces and surfaces with a low load-bearing capacity, like roofs with PVC membranes or non-standard architecture, facades having lightweight decorative claddings or made of sandwich panels.
The bearing capacity of facades and roofs of modern energy-efficient buildings is often insufficient for mounting of conventional silicon modules with a battery weight of 25 kg/m2 and a similar weight of the supporting structure. Thus, conventional solar panels increase the load on the building’s bearing structure by 50 kg/m2. The Solartek mounting system weighs less than 1 kg/m2 jointly with the set of flexible cells, and installation expenses amount to 10-15% of the modules’ cost.
The ultra-light mounting system is almost unnoticeable and leaves no gaps between cells, creating an impression of design continuity. The Solartek mounting system made of aluminum and plastic can be installed using standard tools.
Integrated photovoltaic cells (Building-Integrated PhotoVoltaics, BIPV) are designed based on the thin-film photovoltaic technology, which consists of using microcrystalline or amorphous materials deposited on a flexible substrate for a cell’s active layer instead of crystalline silicon. These solar cells can be mounted on any surface and are efficient even when partially shaded or when reflected and scattered light prevails. Moreover, they have a potentially lower production cost.
In contrast to conventional silicon panels, BIPV cells can be installed on uneven structures: the solar panels can be mounted on the corners of buildings and cover surfaces of complex geometry. As opposed to flexible panels that are bonded to a substrate, the cells assembled in the new system are easy to install and dismantle. This is especially important when the life cycle of a building is significantly longer than the operating life of solar cells. When the latter expires, the removable cells can be easily replaced without any refurbishment.
Removable thin-film cells are becoming an attractive product for consumer and business lending.
“Instead of paying for kilowatt hours, the consumer can pay for equipment rental or loan. This will stimulate the development of home’s electricity: it is easier to try, determine an optimal size, return excessive cells or buy extra ones to arrange the most comfortable operating mode,” — Solartek’s Director Dmitry Yakovlev says.
The first solar modules will be installed on the energy-efficient facade of the Technospark nanocenter (Troitsk) this fall.