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Link to Solarmer
Solarmer Energy Inc. is a developer of transparent, flexible plastic solar panels, the next wave in generating renewable energy from the sun. These solar panels are opening the door for a wide range of new application areas in renewable energy, which are not currently addressable with conventional silicon solar panel technology. Our company's solar panels have the potential to reduce the cost of renewable energy down to 12-15 cents/kWh and less than $1/Watt, which means plastic solar panels will be the first in solar capable of generating electricity on par with conventional fuel costs.
Solarmer was founded in 2006 to commercialize this technology, which was developed by Professor Yang Yang at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. The company has licensed this technology from UCLA and additional technology developed by Professor Luping Yu at the University of Chicago. These plastic solar panels, made from very thin layers of plastics and other materials, convert solar energy into electricity in a very cost-effective way.
The Californian startup Solarmer has been making good progress with its plastic organic PV in the past few years. It hit 6% efficiency in 2007, 7.6% a few months ago, and they've now broken their own record with 7.9% (a number that has been certified by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory). This technology has the potential of bringing the cost of solar energy down, and also to allow us to put solar panels in all kinds of places.
Link to Story
First, low-cost plastic is used as the active materials to convert solar energy into electricity. Thanks to the extraordinary light absorption capability of the plastics, the active plastics layer is extremely thin - only a few tenth of micrometer thick, i.e. less than 1/1000 of silicon cell. This material cost is significantly lower.
Second, very low cost printing techniques can and will be used to manufacture plastic solar cells (just thinking of the newspaper). The combination gives much lower cost of equivalent energy (only ~10 - 20% that of silicon technology). In addition, the fabrication process is both low temperature and environmentally friendly, significantly reduces the amount of energy consumption in the manufacturing process.