Flexible Solar Panels - Freedom from Rigidity


By the very name Flexible Solar Panels we may picture a solar panel which can be rolled or folded together. You have hit the bull’s eye my friend. These panels are actually flexible. Now you may wonder how can this be possible?


Flexible Solar Panel

Yes recent technological advancements have made it possible to manufacture flexable solar panels. Imagine how you could put these panels to use? Include it in your back pack as an accessory for your jungle or mountain adventure or just pull it over your car’s top while you commute. The possibilities of using these can be numerous. In fact these flexible solar panels will surely add to the success of solar as a form of energy in the future.


How are they made?
  • Manufacturing process of a typical flexible solar panel involves deposition of one or more thin layers of photovoltaic material. This photovoltaic material is deposited on a flexible polymer or metallic substrate (base). The thickness of this photovoltaic material ranges from a few nanometers to tens of micrometers.


  • Various methods like chemical vapor deposition, sputtering are used to deposit amorphous silicon. This amorphous silicon is deposited on a flexible substrate which was earlier deposited with a layer of transparent conducting oxide.


  • The mobility of electrons is one to two times higher as compared to holes thus more number of electrons are collected when they move from p to n type contact in comparison to holes as they move from p to n type contact. So p-type layer is deposited on the top as the light density is higher, hence the majority charge carriers crossing the junction are electrons.


  • These flowing electrons then constitute current which can be used to power some of your devices like the ipod, mobile phone, digital camera etc.


Advantages of Flexible Solar Panels
  • The cost of energy per watt is low against traditional solar panels.


  • A Flexable Solar Panel is capable of working even under diffused light conditions but the normal solar panels are able to function only when the sun is shining.


  • You may be amazed to know that these flexable solar panels are lot cheaper than the traditional crystalline solar panels. As very less material (amorphous silicon) is used and even the polymer substrates are relatively low priced.


These two factors make folding solar panels the most cost effective solar panels available today. You can take a peek at some available flexible solar panels.


Disadvantages

  • This drawback is quite serious. Overall efficiency being very conservative (6-10%), which means the energy harnessed from the sun is reduced manifold by using folding solar panels.


  • The power output varies according to the sunlight variations and the location also is critical for satisfactory power output.


  • Power output degradation starts in a fairly short period of time (5 – 7 years) as compared to normal crystalline silicon solar panels. This means you will need to replace them pretty frequently (only after 5 + years)


But there is good news on the horizon, significant research work is under way in order to bring these flexable solar panels and traditional solar panels at the same efficiency level. Let’s hope that our scientific community achieves this milestone.


So far the journey has been amazing my friend as we keep on empowering you with right knowledge about solar energy and solar energy products.





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