17 Apr 2012:
New Solar Panel System
Could Double as a Tinted Window
A German startup has developed a new type of lightweight solar panel its developers say can be integrated into the design of buildings and even used in electricity-producing tinted windows
. Designed by Dresden-based Heliatek, the technology utilizes small, organic molecules in the production of the solar cells. While such organic solar cells have become commonplace, this technology uses molecules called oligomers. They are more stable than the commonly used polymers, which developers say will make the cells more efficient and longer-lived. Because they are lighter and have greater flexibility than most panels, the company hopes they can be integrated into building construction as a cheaper alternative to mounted panels, according to a report in MIT’s Technology Review.
The company also is working with one manufacturer to use the semi-transparent panels as windows. The panels currently cost more per watt than conventional solar cells, but Heliatek says larger-scale production could drive the price down to 40 to 50 cents per watt within five years, which would make them more cost competitive.
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