Jorge Chapa

Researchers Unveil Flexible Solar Cell Roof Shingles

by , 06/15/09

solar roof shingles, solar power, flexible solar panels, solar panels, green power

By far one of the most wasted spaces of every residence is the roof – of course it is there to protect us from the elements, but surely it can be put to better use. Aiming to innovate upon conventional roof cladding, researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently unveiled a new breed of flexible and moisture resistant solar panels that are designed to be rolled out en masse as energy-generating roof tiles!

solar roof shingles, solar power, flexible solar panels, solar panels, green power

Solar Panels are a great source of green energy, but unfortunately they’re not the prettiest of things – massive solar arrays tend to stick out like sore thumbs. Traditional photovoltaic panels, such as those incorporated into building facades, also tend to be costly, and producing them in a cheap and usable quantity has been a common problem.

Researchers at PNNL developed a film encapsulation process that was initially used for protecting flat panel displays over 15 years ago. However with the recent emphasis on energy generating technologies, they decided to take a second look at the materials and encapsulation process. It turns out that this encapsulation process can be used to protect components that are intended to be exposed to ultraviolet lights and natural elements, making it perfect for waterproofing thin-film solar panels.

PNNL hopes to produce a solar panel that can be installed on a residence and generate power for a few cents on the dollar. Research is currently being undertaken in conjunction with Vitex and Batelle, and hopefully we’ll see a marketable product soon.

+ Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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14 Comments

  1. William Wiley Bolton August 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    The fact that this technology has been around for more than twenty years and is just now being talked about is a testament to American greed and willingness to hide good products so they can continue to sell foreign oil while looting the USA!

  2. P L October 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Cars, Trucks, Boats, Trailers etc all have “roofs” so I’d say it would be nice but agree with those who say won’t happen because it hasn’t.

  3. toolanddie August 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    please help me find solar roof shingles to instal on my new roof, to go on in sept, or oct. of 2010. This is DYI I\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’ve instaled alot of shingles, and want to add at least some solar to my house. I need retailers of solar shingles, power storage, and converters. purchesing help, please.

  4. biophilia March 20, 2010 at 1:45 am

    I just saw “Who killed the electric car” tonight. Theme of that is: people are bad, corporations evil and slow to change.

    Give us the freaking product already and stop testing stuff. Why can’t we start marketing this in Canadian Tire and making it in China like everything else so I can freaking buy it??!!

  5. albert sza September 9, 2009 at 8:19 am

    contact me with factory for export into Belgium

  6. griffrs June 20, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I read the release article and it didn’t even mention a prototype. The two companies had agreed only to begin research together on the encapsulation process. They were hoping to use the same thin-films used in TVs but they have to develop a UV resistant formula which could last 25 years. Why does your article make is sound like this product is right around the corner? Usually your articles are more accurate than this…

  7. tp June 16, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    @ Ruggy:

    Have you never Googled “solar cell shingles”?

    Been available for decades. Of course they are expensive, taking even longer than the standard 15 years it takes for a photovoltaic installation to break even over standard electrical costs.

    I’ll take that hundred bucks, please.

  8. Johnny Cash June 16, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Wow, that is truly amazing.

  9. Ruggy June 16, 2009 at 2:52 am

    De ja vu. Solar shingles were announced in the early 1980′s but they’re still not available.

    The problem with photovoltaic technology is that there is always something newer and potentially better on the horizon, just a few years away, and so nobody is ever willing to invest in and develop any of the technologies despite their merit.

    A hundred bucks says this never makes it to market.

  10. aj229a June 16, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Too bad they are going to make it cost 100x the worth, simply because its “new” and they know rich “green” people with more brains than money will buy it up without thinking… then it will die a fast death and never be seen unless one of these billion dollar electric companies buys it up to do the same thing, only with the masses in mind. Yeah it might be cheaper, but this second part probably won’t happen….

  11. Lone June 16, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Thank you. Finally a potentially practical world-wide application. Please be true so we can stop fooling around with these monolithic wind turbines and dead-end solar farms.

  12. ECD Fan June 16, 2009 at 1:00 am

    It is not a great product at all. It will be costly to manufacture (needs to be below 90c per watt to sell), and lower efficiency means higher balance-of-system costs. The usable life is also in question – how will they prove the product will last even 10 years? Destined to fail!

    Read here about the “competitor”: http://ecdfan.blogspot.com/2009/05/unisolar-dilemma-not-selling-or-selling_27.html

  13. aray June 15, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    India is greatly in need of such product. Such Solar Cell will open lts of new opportunity for the rural sectors, which is suffering because of lack of power supply.

  14. DanJ June 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Looks like it could be a really great product. Would love to read more about the manufacturing process, and how material and energy cost of manufacturing compares with silicon PV’s, which are so much higher than thin-film in general. Cost and availability would be nice as well – I hope this is something that will actually make it to market some time soon!

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