February 23 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: 2011 Rating: 6 Hot
The future where buildings integrate energy generation systems like 'thin film' solar rooftops might be closer than you think.
Instead of designing expensive, bulky and ugly glass based solar panels, solar start ups are pushing down costs of plastic-substrate based 'thin film' solar cells that resemble today's roof shingles. The field also includes 'Big Chemistry' players like Dow and DuPont who hope to drop the costs of advanced solar materials.
PV Tech is reporting on the continued push by Dow Chemical to expand mainstream construction use power-generating roof shingles by 2011. Dow has already committed more than $3 billion towards polysilicon production that will help lower the global costs of solar cells.
One of Dow's key partnerships is with CIGS solar producer Global Solar (Image). The two companies agreed in 2008 to join the US Department of Energy Solar America Initiative (SAI) project to develop building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) that makes solar energy cost competitive with 'grid' electricity by 2015.
October 07 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: 2010 Rating: 5 Hot
The world of thin film (polymer-based organic) photovoltaics continues to evolve as start ups ramp up early branding efforts around product releases and higher volume production plans.
Now Konarka Technologies has announced the opening of a 250,000 sq ft ‘roll to roll’ 1 Gigawatt capacity thin film solar plant
in a former Polaroid site in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
“This facility has state-of-the-art printing capabilities that are ready for full operation, with the future potential to produce over a gigawatt of flexible plastic solar modules per year,” commented Howard Berke, executive chairman and co-founder of Konarka. “Our technical leadership and innovation in flexible thin film solar, along with this facility’s capabilities of producing in excess of 10 million square meters of material per year, will allow us to produce Power Plastic for indoor, portable, outdoor and building integrated applications.”
Konarka has long been considered a leading start up in the solar field, but this Gigawatt production capacity helps to cement its position among a growing base of thin film competitors. Analysts have been fond of describing ‘spectacular growth’ ahead for thin film solar, but near term expansion is not likely to be as easy as paper forecasts as the solar industry confronts fundamental challenges including rising costs of raw materials. Rising costs aside, the solar industry is expected to grow from a market volume of 5.6 GW in 2008 to 79.5 GW in 2015. And if thin film companies like Konarka can continue to open large scale MW and GW capacity plants they should certainly expect bright days ahead.
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Samsung shocked some crowds at the FPD International 2008 this year by displaying a .05mm thick OLED display. Oh, and did I mention there just “happened” to be a fan nearby that caused it to flap around? Because there was.
Called the Flapping Display, Samsung really outdid itself. In fact, one staffer at the event mentioned “It is technically possible to make the panel thinner. However, it is difficult to further reduce the thicknesses of the flexible substrates and circuit components around it.” Way to be modest. I wonder how long before OLED screens start appearing everywhere — on the sides of cars, in our phones, even on a future high-end Kindle.
One thing is for sure, OLED is going to change everything.
info from Nikkei Business Publications
Chinese researchers have discovered that by sending current through sheets of carbon nanotubes they can create sound.
“Shoushan Fan and his research team at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, working with colleagues at Beijing Normal University, created a thin sheet by roughly aligning many 10-nanometer-diameter carbon nanotubes. When they sent an audio frequency current through the sheet, they discovered it acted as a loudspeaker.” -New Scientist
Carbon nanotubes have been touted the world over as invaluable in many technological projects such as efficient solar cells, localized medication delivery and even in larger structures such as the planned space elevator if that ever takes off. But this is the first experiment in using nanotubes as a replacement for traditional speakers.
Why would you make the switch?
Next generation energy storage solutions (e.g. batteries, fuel cells, capacitors) continue to gain attention from investors and energy forecasters who see significant growth ahead beyond typical production side investments.
A new report from Lux Research, titled Thin Batteries: Novel Storage Powering Novel Devices, believes that this low cost battery platform could have 'enough juice to grow from a $19 million market in 2008 to a market of over $250 million in 2014.'
The report updates Lux Research's analyses of eight thin battery manufacturers and draws on nine additional interviews with application developers downstream to assemble a comprehensive perspective on thin battery technologies, companies, and markets.
Thin batteries appear to be following a classic 'low end disruption' growth strategy of avoiding direct head to head competition with current 'coin cell' batteries in favor of growing around new applications. Lux describes potential growth across a range of sectors including healthcare (e.g. drug delivery patches), media (e.g. video displays), and information systems (e.g. RFIDs/Sensors)
Lux expects opportunities for investors able to find opportunities in later stage funding rounds but stress the inevitability of shake out in emerging markets. "By 2014, there simply won't be enough space in this market for ten thin battery companies to sustain a healthy business," said Jacob Grose, an Analyst at Lux Research and the report's lead author "Anyone interested in getting a seat at the table will need to identify the winners, and identify them early."