Flexible Thin Film Solar Panels: Technology and Different Applications of Bendable Solar Panels
What are flexible thin film solar panels? How can its flexibility technically be realized? In which applications would flexible thin film solar panels be advantageous? What differences exist in these bendable solar panels?
While rigid solar panels usually consist of photovoltaic solar cells based on silicon and are mounted on a fixed aluminum frame and covered by a glass plate to be protected from environmental conditions, flexible thin film solar panels are based on organic materials.
The bendable solar panels are often used for mobile applications: mobile homes, boats, and planes. They are also used in textiles.
Rigid, semi-flexible and flexible solar panels
For solar PV systems, there are both rigid and bendable solar modules.
The Attributes rigid and flexible refer to the ability of solar modules to be mounted on curved surfaces. In contrast to flexible solar panels, rigid solar panels are not pliable.
The pliability of flexible solar modules varies in relation to its construction and its nature. Very pliable types are called flexible, less pliable semi-flexible solar panels.
Typical properties and applications of flexible thin film solar panels
Flexible thin film solar panels are considered as an ideal alternative to large rigid modules: They are lightweight, powerful, and very thin. The minimum thickness and the low weight of these solar modules cause less wind noise, and they are optically attractive.
Its specific structure makes flexible thin film solar panels bendable so that they can be installed on arched roofs of mobile houses or boats.
Flexible thin film solar panels can also be installed on facades, and they can be integrated into textiles, especially in outdoor fashion and equipment such as backpacks. They can also be fixed on tarps like tents and awnings, which can be folded or rolled after use.
Structure and properties of flexible thin film solar panels
There is a wide range of manufacturers of flexible solar modules, which have different styles and properties. Here, are some popular models.
Flexible solar modules based on CIGS technology
Flexible solar modules with CIGS solar cells are currently the most powerful flexible solar modules.
These modules can be used on mobile houses or boats and also occasionally to cover your electricity needs on the way. Such flexible solar module can be used indoors and outdoors.
Flexible mini solar module on Stainless steel foil in Teflon film
The flexible mini solar modules pertain to silicon technology. Amorphous silicon is evaporated onto a stainless steel foil and embedded into a Teflon film. That makes the construct flexible, robust and weather-resistant.
Such a small thin film solar panels can also be used in applications mentioned above for large flexibles solar modules.
Semi-flexible solar panels on aluminum plates
Semi-flexible solar panels on aluminum plates are very thin. These modules are ruggedly constructed: On a support-metal plate, all layers are collected under a grooved plastic surface layer. As such, the solar panels can to some extent be bent.
Compared to rigid solar modules, the yield per square meter of flexible solar modules is lower: the grooved plastic surface allows less light to penetrate into the photovoltaic solar cells. Such semi-flexible solar panels can be bought in different dimensions.
Semi-flexible plastic solar panels
There are also semi-flexible solar panels made of bendable plastic material. These modules are waterproof, weatherproof and shock-resistant.