A joint development project between OPES Solutions, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solar modules for off-grid power supply, and Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP has resulted in the development of a super light solar module. The new module weighs nearly 20 grams per watt, which, when compared to the 60 grams per watt form factor of traditional crystalline modules, corresponds to a two third reduction in weight. The cost of the new module is also comparable to the conventional solar modules.
The backside of the module is made of polyethylene terephthalate, with monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar cells limited on it. The material has been tried and tested in a number of applications so far and is commonly seen making up rotor blades for wind turbines. Several uses of the material are also popular in areas such as automotive and shipbuilding. The high production volumes of the material correspond to its low cost and extensive use across the vast set of application areas.
When compared to other lightweight materials such as fiberglass, the polyethylene terephthalate material used for building the ‘O-LitePlus’ modules has even lower weight. Owing to the fact that PET is easy to process and possesses heat and expansion coefficients similar to solar cells, OPES Solutions estimates that the modules are also highly durable. The possibility that the use of this technique can also lead to the production of curved modules, the O-Lite Plus solar modules look highly promising for applications that are weight-sensitive such as small devices, boats, and vehicles.