Sunflare unveiled a new flexible solar panel at CES this year that can be stuck to walls and roof structures and could transform how solar is incorporated into the architectural details of homes. Will this be the next breakthrough in solar? Will this be the product that leads to wider adoption of solar technology across US households?
The thin-film solar product is flexible, light, and according to Solarflare – affordable. Conventional solar technologies have relied on a glass substrate, this new product from Sunflare removes the glass leaving a flexible and much thinner layer of semiconductors. The manufacturing process claims to be environmentally cleaner because it requires less energy to manufacture and does not use toxic chemicals. Sunflare claims that their flexible film is able to capture 10 person more energy from dawn to dusk at a comparable cost to standard crystalline silicon.
Tax credit extensions that The National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced were extended are helping to add approximately 53 additional gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by the year 2020. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently reported that it expects solar to achieve the greatest increases, adding 9.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar in 2016.
Sunflare CEO, Philip Gao said, “Sunflare has worked for six years to perfect Capture 4, a cell-by-cell manufacturing process with the highest degree of precision and the cleanest environmental footprint.This allows us to do what no manufacturer of CIGS thin-film has done before — mass produce efficient, flexible solar panels.”
The panels are 65 percent lighter than silicon modules and as a result allow an entire roof to be covered without load-bearing and roof penetrating concerns typically associated with conventional installations. Further, Sunflare says that the product will be easier to install because it does not require an aluminum frame, nor does it require building penetration. With this new flexible material, nearly any surface — vertical, horizontal, even curved — can be transformed into an energy-gathering and power-generating plant.
We will follow closely how and if architects and builders will incorporate Solarflare.