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Printable, Rollable Solar Panels Could Go Anywhere

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the why-isn't-my-car's-dome-light-an-led dept.

Power 187

Al writes "A startup based in Toledo, Ohio, has developed a way to make large, flexible solar panels using a roll-to-roll manufacturing technique. Thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells are formed on thin sheets of stainless steel, and each solar module is about one meter wide and five-and-a-half meters long. Conventional silicon solar panels are bulky and rigid, but these lightweight, flexible sheets could easily be integrated into roofs and building facades."

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Imagine that (4, Insightful)

tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28244925)

Isn't it amazing how all of these advancements show up when given a little push?

Re:Imagine that (4, Informative)

jshackney (99735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245059)

From this [technologyreview.com] article, "Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) have been around since the late 1980s, Warner says, but only lately have they begun to see some success with large commercial and residential developments. Recent advances in flexible thin-film photovoltaic materials--such as those sold by United Solar--are allowing manufacturers to more easily integrate photovoltaics directly into the roofs and facades of buildings."

Re:Imagine that (0, Offtopic)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245213)

Is it Firefox, or is anyone else getting three bars around certain articles that look like roller blinds or solar panels?

Re:Imagine that (3, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245311)

It's Firefox. Slashdot has looked like crap for at least a month now. For a news for nerds site, it's curious that they aren't concerned with making it look decent on one of the most popular browsers among nerds.

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245563)

You'd think that but since everyone loves Apple they make sure it looks best in Safari.

Re:Imagine that (3, Informative)

rhakka (224319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246033)

Safari 3.2.1 has the same problem, I can report.

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246395)

Opera 10.00 Beta too

(Yes, there *are* actually Opera users out there)

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28247043)

But it works in epiphany!

Re:Imagine that (1)

lifesizeactionfigure (1273144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247675)

it looks fine in Safari 4 build 5528.17

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28247065)

Man are you right. I would expect them to test with firefox and adblock enabled. The site currently looks like total crap. On the plus side they fixed the issue of the stupid fsdn domain not letting you click the main story if you have adblock enabled.

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28247547)

If Slashdot weren't ugly as fuck with broken ass code being skewed everywhere and retarded floating javascript powered bullshit all over the place, I'd need them to get an SSL cert to confirm I'm viewing the right site.

Re:Imagine that (1)

ksatyr (1118789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247099)

Offtopic or not, the point deserves an answer. There seems to be a problem with one or more missing style sheets, you can fix it by clicking "change" on the viewing preference panel (above the comments.)

Re:Imagine that (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245175)

"Imagine that (Score:3, Insightful)
by tyrione (134248) on Sunday June 07, @06:51PM (#28244925) Homepage
Isn't it amazing how all of these advancements show up when given a little push?"

First, what "little push" would that be? You (quite deliberately) don't say. Second, quite frankly, the technique means crap, because they are inefficient, cheap panels, which makes no sense unless you have a huge roof.

The main reason stuff like this is coming to market is because energy prices were and will be so high. The second reason is that the advent of the computer and hence technology age, more people have the means and opportunity to look into and acquire the materials without going through a misinformed, costly local middleman.

Still, this is a pretty crappy system, a part of the whole solar setup, and /. should know better. A HUGE part of the system cost aren't the panels, it's the damn electronics, and those prices are really high for a large installation. Anyone who has looked into solar panels, whether hot water pv, knows this. For non-grid tie but grid tie quality AC power, the inverters alone are damn expensive. Those prices aren't likely coming down, given the amount of quality raw material in them which keep going up due to global demand.

In a lot of situations, a better system is going with a geothermal heat pump or similar, not your entire roof of crappy, inefficient solar panels, tied to your high quality inverter, and thousands of dollars in batteries. I like solar a hell of a lot, but what we need is highly efficient, cheap flexible panels, with correlating consumer priced inverter and battery tech, not this crap.

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246125)

Don't beat around the bush! Tell us what you really think!

Re:Imagine that (4, Interesting)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247011)

Inverters are a cost, but thin film is no worse off - your inverter won't care that you have a larger area of cellls to produce the same voltage.

Besides, a lot of electronic equipment can run off DC. Why should you invert the power, then run it through a rectifier, then pump it into your laptop?

AC power is good for long-distance transmission, but it's no better for consumer use. Air conditioners might prefer AC, but mostly a move to DC could be just as good. Houses could be wired to have an AC system (for obsolete equipment, and stuff that needs electric pumps), and a low voltage DC rail (for new stuff). It might also mean cheaper electronics, if you don't need a bloody rectifier in every piece of white plastic you own.

Edison FTW!!!!

Re:Imagine that (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247131)

Besides, a lot of electronic equipment can run off DC. Why should you invert the power, then run it through a rectifier, then pump it into your laptop?

To change the voltage. Historically, it's been hard to change DC voltages in a small, efficient, compact device. It's possible nowadays, however, so one can hope that things like Green Plug [greenplug.us] take off. I'd love to see something like that be standard for house wiring.

Re:Imagine that (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247319)

Oh, that's right. Now I remember. But if I recall switchers, a lot of transformer / rectifiers have cutters - rapid on-off switches so the AC power turns into an extremely high frequency signal. It's more AC than AC. Then you step down, then rectify and smooth the signal. Otherwise you need *much* bigger capacitors - your PSU would be bigger than your laptop.

They shouldn't care about AC or DC in, because they just cut the signal into a jitter. But it's easier to step down if you are already close to the final voltage.

Given the low price of non-Apple power supplies, it makes you wonder why inverters are so much, as they have similar parts. I guess that a pretty AC wave is hard to generate, but a noisy AC signal (suitable for transforming into DC) is easier. Or maybe it's just a factor of economies of scale.

Re:Imagine that (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247181)

Second, quite frankly, the technique means crap, because they are inefficient, cheap panels, which makes no sense unless you have a huge roof.

1. There's no shortage of unused roof space in the world right now. What matters is cost per watt. Make it cheap enough, and it'll be installed everywhere.

2. Home-scale inverters would be a heck of a lot cheaper if their volume went up 1,000-fold. And that's what'd happen if solar panels that were easy to install on new (or especially existing) homes could be made cheaply enough.

3. Solar panels aren't only used on roofs. I actually have a flexible solar panel. It's only 12V/5W -- not exactly a roof-scale installation. I use it for backpacking. I wired it up to a car lighter socket->USB converter, and when it's sunny, I can charge AAs and AAAs (two at a time, in a couple hours), a cell phone, or run other USB accessories.

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245383)

What do you mean by "show up"? It seems to me that there's a solar story about once a week, on Slashdot...always a new way to increase efficiency, make it cheaper, easier-to-scale, etc., but this stuff never seems to make it to the marketplace...I'm still waiting for the solar technology that was announced here, five years ago, to "show up" in the marketplace...

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245659)

Isn't it amazing how all of these advancements show up when given a little push?

Allow me to translate:

Isn't it amazing that when something becomes trendy suddenly everyone is doing it?

Re:Imagine that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245669)

Yes, a 5% efficient panel that degrades after 5 years! Glory be! We don't need oil any more!!

Re:Imagine that (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245715)

The foreign bastard with his 78 iq elected by millions of dead and illegals had nothing to do with this or the other "advancements". Everyone that has been listed here over the past few months have been being worked on for ages, most of which have shown to be dead ends years ago, it's just know they know we will piss away money on trying to get failed innovations to work, since those in charge of funding now don't care how bad they screw us all just so they get more power.

Re:Imagine that (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246727)

Isn't it amazing how all of these advancements show up when given a little push?

Try my fast and easy three step plan:

  1. Put the crack pipe down.
  2. Take Obama's dick out of your mouth.
  3. Profit!

Re:Imagine that (2, Insightful)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246879)

Isn't it amazing how all of these advancements show up when given a little push?

It really is amazing how they founded a company, got a grant, looked into an area of research, and made a breakthrough all in less than three months.

I gotta hand it to the administration. I used to think government was inefficient. Now I know better.

Regular Solar Panels (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28244929)

Regular Solar Panels are not bulky. It is the structure that is bulky.

I agree with ths article. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28244935)

As TFA indicates, these panels are perfect for anal insertion, which the author says creates a pleasant microelectric current through the rectum all day long. I have been looking for a product like this for ages and finally it is here! Viva Italia!

Easy money (1, Funny)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28244971)

1. Miniaturize the solar panels.
2. Make adapters for them so they can be used in everyday devices (phones and such)
3. ???
4.Profit!

Re:Easy money (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28244983)

You are a giant douchebag

Re:Easy money (2, Funny)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245171)

Welcome to the 80s, where I thought I was cool for having a solar powered calculator.

Will we actually be able to buy these? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28244993)

We all heard about how great Nanosolar is, but it's not actually possible to buy any. Will this stuff be any different?

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245069)

They will likely go bust before anyone manage to figure out how to buy their product.

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these? (4, Informative)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245101)

No. They're in the exact opposite situation, in fact. They can't make their product fast enough to keep up with orders, which is why it's not really possible for consumers to purchase them. There are much, much worse positions for a company to be in.

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245717)

There are much, much worse positions for a company to be in.

goatse?

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these? (4, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245225)

100% of Nanosolar's production output is going to large scale (commercial/industrial scale) solar plants. They keep building additional manufacturing capacity but have not saturated the commercial demand. There's no need for them to offer panels to consumers; their business model is quite sound.

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these? (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245271)

There's no need for them to offer panels to consumers; their business model is quite sound.

The quality of their business plan is completely irrelevant to my reaction to my inability to purchase their product.

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245313)

There's no need for them to offer panels to consumers; their business model is quite sound.

The quality of their business plan is completely irrelevant to my reaction to my inability to purchase their product.

Sounds like a good business to get into.

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these? (4, Insightful)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245463)

The quality of their business plan is completely irrelevant to my reaction to my inability to purchase their product.

Also, your reaction to your inability to purchase their product is completely irrelevant to the quality of their business plan.

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these? (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245877)

The quality of their business plan is completely irrelevant to my reaction to my inability to purchase their product.

Also, your reaction to your inability to purchase their product is completely irrelevant to the quality of their business plan.

Unfortunately, the quality of the irrelevance is that I am unable to react by purchasing their product.

Er, and, Plan, or something.

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these?...never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245437)

No need for them to produce those cells any cheaper, any time soon, either...

What we all want is an affordable solar array, of our very own...but that most likely doesn't square with the business models of either Nanosolar, or your local utility...nobody has a real market incentive to make that happen...

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these?...never (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246723)

That's only because your local utility hasn't figured out that they can make plenty of money doing nothing but monitor and switch power between customers, cranking up their big expensive generators only when additional power is needed. Buy excess energy from households which produce more than they need, then switch/sell it to other households which do not at a markup. Income might take a nosedive, but so would generation costs.

Re:Will we actually be able to buy these?...never (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246921)

I think you've just described the other piece of what they already know is coming [yahoo.com] :

"The meter is only the beginning," [...] the smart grid can usher in a system of distributed energy so electricity "will flow from homes and businesses into the grid, neighborhoods will use local power and not just power flowing from a single source."

The question is... (1)

crazyvas (853396) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245037)

...where /are/ they going to go?

How much will it cost? (5, Insightful)

wjwlsn (94460) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245071)

This sounds like a great idea, but it probably isn't the breakthrough that the summary might otherwise suggest. The efficiency of the resulting solar panels, even with triple-junction cells, is still only 8% at most (as stated in the article). At that level of efficiency, the manufacturing process will have to be very inexpensive for these to make sense for the average consumer.

Re:How much will it cost? (4, Informative)

TD-Linux (1295697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245185)

Cost-per-watt matters much more than density right now (efficiency directly affects density) - look at all the roofs and other potential locations for solar panels. Efficiency isn't the reason they aren't up, it's the high cost. Even 8% efficiency, is still more power than you get out of an asphalt slab.

Re:How much will it cost? (1)

linuxpyro (680927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245857)

Efficiency isn't a big thing, yet. But as the cost decreases and people want to buy more, they'll need more roof space with a lower-efficiency panel. It's already an issue for larger (commercial-type) installations, where more efficient panels could save space, and thus wiring, mounting, etc.

Re:How much will it cost? (0, Troll)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246705)

You have to tax conventional energy to skew the demand curve. There should be a multi-dollar a gallon gas tax and a steep tax on grid-based electric. Solar would come into vogue right quick.

Re:How much will it cost? (1)

wjwlsn (94460) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246783)

I think maybe you didn't understand me. What I was trying to say was that at 8% efficiency -- if the cost is not significantly cheaper than currently available solar tech -- the investment in these solar panels won't be justifiable for the average electricity consumer, relative to the cost of just buying power from the local utility.

I agree that cost/watt, over the life of the equipment, is probably the most important factor here. People would happily buy solar tech that was even less efficient than 8%, if the costs were low enough.

Re:How much will it cost? (3, Interesting)

physburn (1095481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246915)

Very true, the cost is more important, solar power is approaching parity with oil and gas, and is supposed to reach it at 5 cents per watt. The article didn't give the price of the roll up solar cells, so i've no idea how close to that it is, but such advances will steadier push the balance of prices into solars favor, which is to happen expected by 2012.

Solar Power [feeddistiller.com] feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Re:How much will it cost? (3, Insightful)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245223)

It'll have to be around 40% of the cost of a standard solar cell (since many are around 20% efficient). It doesn't seem much when you consider that these solar panels are extremely thin. The amount of materials needed to create them will be very small and these solar panels are printable. If only they showed us a price we'd know if they were the future or not.

Re:How much will it cost? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245529)

In fact, I remember an article here on /., that said, that they are only 1/10th of the price of normal cells. Which makes sense.

Re:How much will it cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246647)

>If only they showed us a price we'd know if they were the future or not.

Chances are good the parties who are actually in the market don't get "shown a price" either. They submit sealed bids...

Re:How much will it cost? (2, Interesting)

SourPatchKid (1571523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245289)

There are some on Ebay from a company called Power film Solar and they go for $320 for a 21 watt. I can't imagine this company would be much cheaper. So it is a little pricey for the average consumer.

Re:How much will it cost? (4, Informative)

linuxpyro (680927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245843)

I have one of these panels, a 10 watt one. I paid about $200 for it new. It's neat, especially since you can fit it in odd places. The high cost is mostly because you can roll it up into a type to store it. If you don't need that, it's not really worthwhile.

Slowly becoming cost-effective (5, Informative)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245139)

Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), especially rooftop applications, would be the biggest market for flexible PV technology, Boas says.

Roofing is a significant cost in a residential structure. Being able to integrate the roofing material with the solar panels can help make photovoltaics cost-effective.

In Las Vegas, for instance, roofs are made of expensive (and heavy) clay tiles, mostly for aesthetic reasons. These run anywhere from $30-$50 / m^2.

Re:Slowly becoming cost-effective (4, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245323)

You can already get adhesive thin-film solar "panels" in widths and form factors intended for application to metal roofing panels (the kind shaped like this: A______A — but the As are open like a V and they overlap each other there.) You put it down on some sawhorses and roll out a big sticker which leaves you with a cord hanging off one end. As you put the panels on the roof, you snap the connectors together, and they all get covered by the roof cap at the end. If the roof cap should get damaged, it's inexpensive and relatively simple to replace, all in one piece, so it provides excellent protection for the wiring. You can walk on it, although that doesn't set it apart from today's high-quality crystalline panels.

Re:Slowly becoming cost-effective (4, Informative)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245671)

Actually, the clay tiles are used in most desert areas not for aesthetics. Well, not directly. They're the material that's been used in that area for hundreds of years. It's cheap, abundant, and easy to work with.

One more reason they've been the material of choice for so long? They don't spontaneously combust the same way asphalt shingles or other popular materials can.

/nitpicking.

Re:Slowly becoming cost-effective (2, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245859)

What I want to know is this: why is everyone jumping on the solar cell idea instead of the molten salt tank idea? It seemed to make more sense in those naturally hot and sunny desert areas to go with the salt tanks as opposed to the solar cells, and it looked like it would be pretty efficient as well as cheaper in the long run.

The sun is tracked by mirrors which focus the rays on a black tank filled with molten salt, which in turn drives a generator. You would only need wires for the tracking mirrors and the generator as opposed to a whole roof for solar cells, and as a bonus the heat from the molten salt would be high enough that you would be able to get after dark power generation which of course you don't get from the cells.

Was there a problem with the tech? Because it seemed like a perfect fit for the desert states. If we would couple those with reactors and recycle the nuclear fuel we could get rid of those nasty coal plants while allowing us all to have cheap and reliable power. So was there a problem? Because until we figure out how to make solar cells that are extremely cheap and efficient the salt tanks+nuclear reactors like AR 1&2 [wikipedia.org] in my home state seemed like the best way to cut carbon while keeping from having to go backwards technologically. Did I miss something?

Re:Slowly becoming cost-effective (1, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246357)

It's because of scale. A decent photovoltaic set can power your house and, combined with a battery bank, make you completely independent from the grid. A solar fired steam plant with a molten salt heat reservoir is only really practical at large (multi-megawatt and up) scales. The other problem with using it in a desert is that you need a good cold source to run an efficient steam turbine, which is why power plants (regardless of source) are generally built near bodies of water. You can get past that with cooling towers etc. but it's probably still a factor.

Overall, though, I agree - solar fired steam is as close to perfect as you can get for a solar power plant. The problem is that greenies want solar panels on their roof to *prove* they're doing something. Damn preachy greenies.

Re:Slowly becoming cost-effective (4, Informative)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246363)

1) It doesn't fit on a roof. The average roof space per capita is fairly tiny. This is the reason people are most interested in small-scale, high-efficiency, and ridiculously over-priced renewable energy production methods such as solar photovoltaics.

2) Deserts are actually pretty windy. Tracking mirrors have to be over-built to stand up to the wind and avoid mis-alignment.

3) Molten salt is high-temperature. High-temperature things could possibly be dangerous. Anything potentially dangerous attracts insurance companies, bands of idiots propped-up by a government that prefers killing people via wars and resource shortages rather than allowing individuals access to useful, possibly dangerous technologies.

4) Aesthetics. Solar panels are mostly unobtrusive. Tracking mirrors and tanks filled with molten salt are industrial-looking, and thus ugly.

So the basic problem is that power from molten salt tanks must be produced and sold as a commercial venture. That means it has to compete with coal and natural-gas fired utilities, and still be efficient enough to return a profit. This will basically never happen unless governments tax fossil fuels out of existence.

Re:Slowly becoming cost-effective (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246617)

Because molten tanks work great when you are making a multi-megawatt generator to power a town, but are rediculously expensive, dangerous, and hard to maintain when put on top of a house when the owner simply wants to go off-the-grid, or only has $30k to spend. (Plus there are lots of us who don't live anywhere near the desert).

Re:Slowly becoming cost-effective (1)

bhiestand (157373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247857)

Was there a problem with the tech? So was there a problem? Did I miss something

The answer to all of your questions: "yes".

Unfortunately I'm a bit too lazy to dig up the references and specific projects for you right now, but if you do some searching you'll find that this method is still a prototype with problems. Last I saw, it was also only a functional prototype on a very large scale, and the temperatures, engineering, and monitoring involved would place it out of limits of residential applications.

I'd encourage you to seek out National Geographic's Man Made: Solar Quest. They covered all the major competing technologies fairly well, and took great care to explain the challenges still facing them.

Re:Slowly becoming cost-effective (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245981)

Those may have been true fifty years ago. But today none of them are.

1) You missed an important reason. Clay absorbs and releases moisture from the air, regulating humidity levels. This is the reason clay is used in flower pots, and for food storage. Aside from local availability, this was one reason clay roofs were used "for hundreds of years" in desert environments. Today, however, every clay tile roof has an underlayment of asphalt roofing material. The clay is not exposed to the indoors and any benefit is lost.

2) Clay tiles are not cheap. They are one of the most expensive roofing materials. They break easily and cost more to install and maintain. Though the tiles themselves do last a long time, the asphalt underlayment mentioned in (1) still has to be replaced periodically.

3) Every house has large patches of exposed asphalt shingles around the air conditioning units, which are mounted on the roof. These don't "spontaneously combust" as you claim. In fact that's pretty much just a ridiculous myth.

The clay tiles are almost purely aesthetic.

nice new tech (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245143)

dupe this when i can buy it at HomeDepot or Lowes, Mkay? Thanks

Re:nice new tech (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245269)

Re:nice new tech (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245291)

Just representing for your nickname, or are you the perfect "straight man"?

Re:nice new tech (2, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245919)

Well you know, it's not the same panel. Hell, they don't even have a commercial product yet. Closest is the United Solar Ovonics panels, which aren't available through Home Depot. The Home Depot panels are BP solar. The United Solar panels are the same damn technology as the "new" tech espoused in the original article, by the way. Point was, although it's not the tech under discussion, Home Depot does sell solar PV systems.

Yet another great product on the horizon... (1)

portablejim (1538997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245189)

Tell me when it actually gets into stores. A few years ago the news came out about sliver cells. (site: http://www.originenergy.com.au/1257/Photos-of-SLIVER-modules [originenergy.com.au] )(story transcript: http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1865651.htm) They are bendable and even transparent, with a similar efficiency of traditional cells. ( [abc.net.au] http://www.originenergy.com.au/1234/About-SLIVER [originenergy.com.au] - down near the bottom of the page). Could someone please tell me where to buy a sliver cell?

We'll Make it up in Volume! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245191)

The article poo-poo's the cells a bit by hashing over the fact that these cells are only 8% efficient, whereas "some crystalline silicon modules on the market" are 20% efficient. (Although the 330 W vs 740 W comparison gives a ratio more like 8% to 18%.) But who really cares? If the roll-to-roll manufacturing can make them even 3 times less expensive, you can just install 2.3 times as many!

My understanding of the limitations of PV solar is the cost, not the available locations. Even houses with PV installed rarely cover the roof with them. Not because you can't, but because the things are so darned expensive. If the roll-to-roll manufacturing fulfills it's promise, we can have more solar power installed than we ever would have with some 30% efficient cell, just by increasing coverage.

This is all assuming that the manufacturing process makes them less expensive per square meter. If that's not the case (perhaps due to their multi-layer nature), and the process is still cost-comparable to conventional crystalline silicon production, then the issue is moot. Unfortunately the article doesn't mention cost comparisons.

Re:We'll Make it up in Volume! (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245999)

Not really, Typically you're going to cover all of the roof, or at as much as the tracking system will allow. If you're limited to doing a third of the roof due to cost considerations then that's feasible, otherwise you're probably going to have to make due with less electricity.

That being said, having even that much is a help, it's more likely to come down to durability than capacity and every bit does help. If they're of comparable durability, then there's definite potential.

Re:We'll Make it up in Volume! (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246407)

Coupla things - 1) roof mounted solar panels rarely have active tracking, 2) they very rarely cover anywhere near the whole roof because the cost of solar panels is still very prohibitive.

COULD go anywhere... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245197)

...but we all know they AREN'T going anywhere, just like all the other dozens of solar tech breakthroughs "ready for production" that have popped up here the past 3 years. Where did they all go? Where to buy them? Mhm.

Camping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245287)

The CEO mentioned carrying the sheet in a backpack. I wonder if they could be used as the outer layer of a tarp or tent - just think, you could recharge your mobile electronics gear and maybe even cook w/o a fire.

Support for vents and pipes? (5, Interesting)

ChartBoy (626444) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245301)

Big sheets of PV are wonderful when you have big open expanses, but real world roof surfaces have vents, pipes, drains and the like. Rather than play tetris with rigid panels, or even with flexible panels, I'd love to be able to cut an opening in the PV material for each opening and get maximal use of the roof surface.

Is anyone working on that?

Re:Support for vents and pipes? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247705)

If you look at the diagrams on their site, you see that each solar panel is divided into 36 sections that are approximately 18x12 inches in size. You could likely cut a hole through a single section as long as you bypassed it with suitable wiring. You would lose at least 10 watts of generating capacity for each hole, depending on your inverter setup.

Printable, Rollable Solar Panels Could Go Anywhere (1)

I'm_Original (1152583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245443)

And so can my flying car. I'll believe it when I see it. No, actually I'll believe it when I can buy it.

Safety (4, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245475)

Solar Power, it's the safest form of nuclear power.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245767)

But does it run linux?

Re:Safety (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245965)

Actually, it's by far the most dangerous. It is completely unshielded, and its ionizing radiation is responsible for thousands of cancer deaths each year.

Re:Safety (4, Insightful)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246631)

Actually, it's by far the most dangerous. It is completely unshielded, and its ionizing radiation is responsible for thousands of cancer deaths each year.

Of course, there is the small detail of it being equally dangerous whether you harvest the power, or not. So we might as well....

Re:Safety (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247925)

Actually if that "dangerous ionizing radiation responsible for thousands of deaths" did not exist, billions of deaths (if not trillions, including animals) would be instantly a problem... we need the sun rays for many things ranging from heating to crop growing

Re:Safety (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246773)

Ya, well, deal with it.

The Sun sustains life here on Earth. It can damn well take it away simply by blowing up, or fading out to darkness. You have no choice in the matter.

Re:Safety (2, Informative)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247409)

Actually, it's by far the most dangerous. It is completely unshielded, and its ionizing radiation is responsible for thousands of cancer deaths each year.

ummmm, I'm sure the magnetosphere shields us from the suns radiation.

Re:Safety (2, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246009)

Nonsense, that would be geothermal. Compare the rates of burned to death by volcanoes with died of skin cancer, I think the answer is obvious.

mmm rollable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245617)

I was just thinking, what a great replacement for papers, you roll with the solar panel and expose the tip to light, and bingo! Flame!

No more lighters needed!

FriS7 stop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246021)

coomunity. The with any sort Others what to can be like lube. This can lead 'doing something' You're told. It's would like to Hubbard and Mike

Options and Choices. Good signs. (3, Interesting)

upuv (1201447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246063)

In the last 18 months we have seen numerous announcements regarding solar power generation.

We've seen advances in
-Manufacturing speed.
-Toxic material reductions.
-Efficiency boosts in rigid cells.
-New products like this flexible.

Yah sure solar has issues. But now given a space that may be inappropriate for wind you can now find a solution in solar.

This is all good.

Maybe one day industry will be draining it's massive power needs from the residentially power generating grid. This should be more than doable in 20 years.

( Next item we need to add to the list of critically needed tech. Water purification and desalination that can be applied in the residential markets. Imagine how much land would open up for crops, settlement, and carbon sinking if we just had cheap and easy to deploy water desalination. )

Re:Options and Choices. Good signs. (1, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246717)

( Next item we need to add to the list of critically needed tech. Water purification and desalination that can be applied in the residential markets. Imagine how much land would open up for crops, settlement, and carbon sinking if we just had cheap and easy to deploy water desalination. )

You live in California, don't you?

I can say with some confidence that my residential area, well over 100 miles from the nearest ocean, is not in any sense bottlenecked on water desalination capacity.

Fallout 3 (2, Funny)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247045)

Next item we need to add to the list of critically needed tech. Water purification

Let me guess... been playing a lot of Fallout 3 [wikia.com] lately?

heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246247)

Someone's keyboard doesn't have dead keys. FaÃade. ..wait, that doesn't look right. ..Great job with the unicode, /.

white panels to be required in the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246265)

What is going to replace all the existing dark colored solar panels installed in the USA, when the White Roof Law is enacted?

New Technology? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246267)

How is their product any different from PowerFilm's (http://www.powerfilmsolar.com/ [powerfilmsolar.com] )? They have been making flexible solar panels for almost 20 years.

Saw this tech at a defense contractor tradeshow (1)

yerktoader (413167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246277)

About month or so ago. The company also has portable rechargeable battery packs. The packs have multiple outlets and outlet types and variable voltage settings. They have enough to power laptop computers and ruggedized military equipment. For the life of me, I can't remember their name.

But with such a technology already in existence, one that is clearly capable of handling a variety of loads, why is the above story news?

Why your dome light isn't an LED (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246299)

The lamp in your dome light will put out light pretty reliably from about 6 or 7 up to about 15 volts and is available everywhere, and the automaker probably gets them for a nickel. The LED runs on a narrow voltage range so it needs a power supply which tends to be an IC, two transistors, and a resistor (for limiting current) as well as a PC board, and probably its own enclosure to avoid shorts.

Because incandescents are 'good enough' (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247765)

That's it. Dome lights are rarely used and never abused, so the LED's comparative advantages - long life, superior efficiency and high durability - are null unless the ability to brag about pointless overengineering is a feature (e.g. expensive vanity cars).

Sigh, another technology that will make it someday (2, Insightful)

barfy (256323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246333)

Where are the Stanford 10x Li-ion batteries???

http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2008/january9/nanowire-010908.html [stanford.edu]

This ALONE will change everything. From an All day Iphone and netbook. To a Chevy Volt that costs 1/2 as much.

WHERE IS IT?

Re:Sigh, another technology that will make it some (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247947)

The Stanford Li Ion batteries aren't durable, are only 3X unless someone also figures out a super cathode to match the anode, and the development has been taken over / financed by a University in Saudi Arabia where these Stanford scientests are now allegedly working on it. I say alledgedly 'cuz I haven't heard anything since, and am wondering whether they've had a beheading "accident" yet. A place like Saudi Arabia is going to develop an automotive-useful electrical power storage that will totally ruin their oil-based economy? Those American scientists will be way lucky to get out of there alive, let alone perfect that battery. Better hope for some other battery breakthru 'cuz this one's going nowhere fast.

FAIL (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246339)

uh, regular solor cells ARE flexible you retards. it's the glass they get bonded to and the alloy frame they sit in that prevents this.

i'll bet they are just regular cells with fuck all weather proofing on them and they degrade in 6 months.

from the why-isn't-my-car's-dome-light-an-led dept (1, Informative)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246799)

Well, there is no savings. The incandescent bulb is cheap, cheap cheap. The LED is not. The power to drive the light comes from the battery, which is charged by the alternator. The alternator doesn't care. You can run over 1KW off the stock alternator. The little current required for the incandescent or bulb doesn't matter. So why put a higher cost part in the car? But wait the LED isn't 12v, it is TTL, so you need to convert from what is a 12v-14v wiring harness to TTL levels. If you use a cheap resistor, you just convert to heat. If you use a charge pump/capacitor you again increase the cost. All for something that won't matter in terms of fuel economy.

Re:from the why-isn't-my-car's-dome-light-an-led d (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28247207)

TTL?! TTL has got nothing to do with illumination with LEDs.

As for running LEDs on 12V, there's an easy solution for that: a single-chip regulator (costs less than LEDs!) and a string of LEDs in series. Easy.
You need your LEDs, a small PCB to hold it all, the regulator, perhaps a capacitor or two, and an inductor. The LEDs are likely to consume most
of the cost.

never going to make it to market (1)

AnAdventurer (1548515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247379)

I have an off grid estate in Hawaii. Didn't RTFA but, I am still paying $139 for a 130W panel. Love to see some of this tech make it to consumers.
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