Flexible solar PV panels offer an ideal solution for the building owners who want to wrap their buil;dings with the solar panels. Besides being flexible and thus easily integrated with elements of various shapes and sizes for the design of innovative energy-generating products, these unbreakable flexible modules are lightweight and suitable for applications where weight is important, while they offer a much faster payback than products based on conventional PVs.
Flexible PV panels are printed on a roll of conductive substrate (which may be conductive plastic) material. As a result, this simple, highest-yield technique in air is capital-efficient and eliminates the need for costly vacuum-deposition techniques originally used to fabricate thin-film solar cells. The photovoltaic functionality gets integrated at low cost in existing structures, printing rolls of the PV material anywhere, from windows to roofs, through external and internal walls, replacing the traditional installation approach with an integration strategy.
Typical efficiency of a flexible panel is less than 10%, however recently MiaSolé of Santa Clara, CA, USA, has developwhich a CIGS based thin film flexible panel for which NREL has confirmed an aperture-area efficiency of 15.5% for its commercial-size flexible PV module (with a total area 1.68m2). This represents an improvement of more than 2 percentage points over the previous record for flexible PV of 13.4%, set earlier this year by CIGS PV panel makers.