Traditional solar panels have become part of our environment. They’re on our rooftops and can be found along our motorways. It would of course be both better and cheaper if they could be integrated into the roof or motorway, or into a façade or roof of a car. Flexible solar panels, also referred to as ‘solar films’, are ideally suited for such applications. This is why Solliance is working together with companies to integrate flexible solar films into end products such as façade and roof elements but also road network and transport applications.
In the densely populated Netherlands, there are plenty of buildings, roads and vehicles that can be used to generate solar energy. So there are plenty of opportunities for integrated PV and there is plenty of surface available.
Why solar film?
In the laboratory of Solliance, research is being done on how prototypes and commercial films with photovoltaic material can be integrated into various applications.
Film is ideal for integration, because it is:
- Lightweight yet strong
- Optionally semi-transparent
- Suitable for existing manufacturing processes
Ambition of our research programme
Solliance’s ambitions with this shared research programme are clear: the large-scale production of PV integrated products at low cost. To realise this ambition, we need companies that want to invest with us in this research programme. We provide the integration and the PV knowledge, while they supply the product and production technology expertise and specifications. Together, this will allow us to develop suitable semi-finished PV products for use in the supply chain for construction, infrastructure and transport.
What kind of companies are we looking for?
To achieve our ambition we are looking to cooperate with the following types of companies:
- Suppliers of flexible, thin-film solar panels
- Companies that develop and/or produce materials for use in building components
- Developers of industrial processes, such as pick-and-place and lamination, focused on the processing of solar films
- Producers of building components made of composites, polymers, metals, and insulating materials
- Suppliers of electronic components
Why solar film in the construction industry?
- Achieving climate targets
All new builds energy-neutral by 2020 and fully energy-neutral built environment by 2050. These are some of the objectives set by the Dutch government to meet the Paris Agreement on climate change. So there is no better time to integrate solar films into construction products than now.
- Dovetailing with the industrialisation of the construction process
The construction process is increasingly shifting from the construction site to the factory workshop. Industrial construction is cheaper, safer and faster than traditional construction. Industrially manufactured building components which are assembled on the construction site are ideally suited for the integration of solar films.
- Design freedom / aesthetics
Solar films can be manufactured in various sizes and colours. This gives architects and designers much more design freedom than with traditional solar panels. It allows them to design beautiful buildings that also generate energy.
- Can be used in high-rise buildings and lightweight roofs
By integrating solar films into façade and roof components, flats, office buildings and industrial buildings can now also generate energy.
Solliance and SolaRoad
In Krommenie in North-Holland there is now a cycle path that demonstrates the power of SolaRoad: a road surface that converts sunlight into energy. Part of the bike path has recently been equipped with thin-film solar cells. Solliance supplied the panels. Our ambition is to develop a machine together with the business community that can apply a power-generating layer to the road surface on the spot.
Our research programme roadmap
In our lab, we are already running small-scale testing of production processes for solar films, which we refer to as ‘flexible thin-film PV modules’. This is what we want to achieve in the coming years via our research programme:
- 2017: Working prototypes are available of attractive PV-integrated end products, such as the Solarboat Twente and a new version of the Fix solarbench.
- 2018: 100 metres of SolaRoad has been laid, in which flexible, thin-film solar panels have been incorporated; we are able to demonstrate prototypes of PV-integrated roof, wall and façade elements.
- 2019: We have managed to integrate solar films into a car roof
2020: We have developed machines for the construction of roads with integrated solar cells; We have developed manufacturing processes for PV-integrated building components.
The added value provided by Solliance
- Processing of flexible CIGS modules, supplied by our partners as semi-finished products. For example, by integrating them into an injection moulding process.
- Cost reduction by working on a cheaper protective layer for the solar films.
- Implementation of industrial integration processes, causing cost to decrease while the number of applications increases.
- Implementation of manufacturing processes for tailor-made CIGS modules, which meet requirements of affordability and design freedom. An important aspect here is electrical integration: how can you produce flexible panels that can be customised without damaging the electrical circuit?
- Introduction of production processes for affordable coloured PV modules with a high yield.
- Introduction of production processes based on the cradle-to-cradle
- The addition of new functionality to PV modules by integrating, for example, sensors, batteries, and light-emitting elements.
- The application of new types of materials such as perovskite, resulting in cost reductions and improved yield.
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