The Solar Cloth Company, based in the UK, has developed an award-winning solar solution for non-load bearing roofing and car parks.
The firm produces lightweight, flexible thin film photovoltaic (TFPV) solar panels that weigh less than 3.3kg/m2 – ten percent of the weight of traditional glass-face solar panels. The Solar Cloth Company states the panels can be installed on almost all low-load bearing structures or bonded to most structural fabrics.
Technologies currently being used for the solar cells are aSi (amorphous silicon) and CIGS (copper Indium Gallium diSelenide). The company’s flagship installation at Cambridge Research Park provides a power output of 15kWp and covers 12 car parking spaces.
Just in the UK, there’s an estimated 834 million square metres of non-load bearing roofing and 353 million square metres of car parking – a huge area that could be used to generate power. If this area was fully utilized, it would represent 120GW of clean electricity generation capacity – more than three-times the energy required to power the UK’s National Grid.
With electricity prices in the UK gradually creeping up, the company says its solution is also cost-competitive.
“By 2020, the wholesale price of electricity is predicted to rise as high as 14p/kWh, whereas our lightweight, flexible solar panels are estimated to have a Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) as low as 8p/kWh over the same period.”
The company believes the market for its product will be worth over £1 billion within a decade.
The Solar Cloth Company was a winner in the recent Solar UK Industry Awards 2014 and has been selected as a finalist in Cleantech Innovate 2015: BIPV Solar Innovation of the Year.
The firm is currently collaborating with the University of Cambridge and other leading European Universities for projects to create ultra-low cost TFPV; and is seeking an investment of £750,000 is to expand it production facilities and sales teams to deliver its 2015 sales pipeline.