15 September 2011
The US manufacturer of organic solar cells, Konarka Technologies, has expanded its strategic partnerships internationally. The core business of the company is supplying organic solar cells based on a photo-reactive polymer to OEM partners, which then integrate the cells. In the organic modules, a dye gives off electrons, the flow of current results from an electrochemical reaction. In contrast to conventional modules, organic cells – which according to Konarka are completely recyclable – can be manufactured at low temperatures with the so-called roll-to-roll process.
The power plastic modules are thin, light and flexible and can be integrated not only into glass and construction materials, but also into structures giving shade, into foils and textiles. Semi-transparency and various colors are possible. The small modules, for instance, can be integrated into bags and used as portable rechargers of mobile phones, lamps etc. The large modules are offered with widths of 34 and 67 cm and various lengths of up to 2.4 meters and ideal for building applications. When packed in glass, the semi-transparent material offers not only a protection from direct sun rays, but also to harnessing power and even add a new design to a building. Depending on the encapsulation of the BIPV modules, a lifetime of 20 years can be achieved, according to Konarka.
At a press conference during the EU PVSEC 2011 in Hamburg, representatives of Konarka (including Howard Berke, CEO, pictured here), as well as of the new partners Lapp Kabel, ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, Bischoff Glastechnik and the Fraunhofer IWES presented plans for their cooperation for building-integrated applications. “Many façade surfaces lend themselves well to photovoltaics, but today lie idle. Until recently the right technology had simply been lacking”, said Dr. Lars Pfeiffer, responsible for Quality and Development of the business unit Color/Construction of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG.
The company plans to integrate Konarka’s cells in metal facades, thereby producing a multifunctional as well as an aesthetic product, which not only takes over the task of encasing the building, but produces solar power as well.
In addition to their integration in steel facades, the organic cells will also be integrated into glass facades. Together with Bischoff Glastechnik AG (BGT), Konarka is planning to develop, within the scope of a pilot project, highly efficient, long-lasting and inexpensive glass-glass modules for building integration. “Architects enjoy playing with color and design when they design facades”, said Klaus Wittmann, CEO at BGT. “The market demands transparency, design options and flexible forms. Together with Konarka we have been able to meet these requirements.”
The connections for the modules come from Lapp Kabel, a world leading providers of cables and conductors. “Along with Konarka, we want to ring in the next generation of photovoltaics and be a part of this sustainable growth”, said Guide Ege, leader of System Products at Lapp.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology IWES will be in charge of characterizing the Konarka modules. “We would like to act as a broker between the construction and solar branch, so that the prerequisites and standards between both sides are optimally harmonised,” said IWES representative Siwanand Misara.
“For new, intelligent construction materials, we can provide the appropriate technology, thereby offering our partners added value for their products”, said Alexander Valenzuela, Konarka’s vice president of Business Development Europe. “We are proud of being able to work in the future with such renowned companies leading the market”, added Howard Berke, CEO and co-founder of Konarka. The company plans to conduct the first pilot projects before the end of the year in southern Germany and in Great Britain, and expects to mass produce its organic solar cells in Europe starting in 2013 or 2014. Two test BIPV installations already provide real data for product improvement in the US.
Written by Andreas Breyer, Contributing Editor, Solar Novus Today.
, PV Cells & Modules
, Organic PV
, Plastic Solar Cells
, EU PVSEC 2011