We cover a lot of solar panel technologies here at Inhabitat — some are pie in the sky, some are a few years down the road and some are exciting products that are actually available today. SoloPower’s new flexible rolling solar panels are in the latter group, and they stand to significantly reduce production and installation costs. With a notable 11% efficiency, the easily-installed thin-film panels may be able to give traditional silicon panels a run for the money.
We can’t wait to see what architects can do with lightweight, bendable solar panels. Rather than using expensive glass and aluminum frames, these units can be literally rolled directly onto metal or flat roofs — thus saving money in materials, time and the extra engineering and upgrades a traditional rack would take. The panels use a Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide (CIGS) process that can produce very long panels but does not require a clean room. The cells are mounted on a flexible foil, and pig tail connectors at the end plug into on another to expedite the installation.