Cheap, flexible plastic solar panels to end developing countries' power woes

Written by: Ani
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London, Jan 27 (ANI): A new technology that uses plastic solar panels that are cheap as well as flexible is set to light up everything, from buildings to bus shelters.

Plastic photovoltaics (PV) are cheaper, lighter and easier to install compared to the silicon solar panels and because of its pliability, it can be used almost everywhere.

"If you've got panels that almost roll up like a big sheet of wallpaper then that might be a very good way of powering developing countries," the Daily Mail quoted Professor David Lidzey from the University of Sheffield as telling CNN.

Most plastics do not conduct electricity, but the specialised molecular structure of plastic PV allows the flows of electrons. However, the efficiency of these panels does need improvement from the current 8 per cent as compared to silicon panels that achieve up to 18 per cent.

Added to that is the problem of plastic disposal. Also, the lifetime of plastic PV currently doesn't come anywhere near that of more stable silicon solar panels, which can last around 20 years.

Lidzey believes, though, that this gulf in efficiency and operational lifetime may not be a problem if the cost can be kept down.

"The idea is that you might not need to catch up provided you can make them cheap enough," he said.

The panels are already in use at US-based company Konarka, which has used it in consumer products such as parasols and luggage, and even installed a 'curtain wall' of plastic PV on the outside of its Florida offices. (ANI)

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