Denmark's National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Risø/DTU, is making rapid progress with its development of plastic solar cells, which also have the special feature that they can be literally printed onto rolls of film. In less than a year, Risø/DTU has improved the efficiency of the plastic solar cells by a factor of 117, a piece of news that delights technology giant Dell, reports financial daily newspaper Børsen.
Tod Arbogast, who heads environmental initiatives with Dell says: "It is interesting that the time horizon for plastic solar cells integrated in for example laptop computers is moving closer and closer. As I understand it, the efficiency of the solar cells is however not in a gear yet where they can charge a laptop, but the technology is very interesting to Dell. We ourselves have pilot projects with solar cells included in our operation, and it will be interesting to follow which technologies will win and can fit into our products."
Risø/DTU has made mobile phone chargers with its new technology. An A4 sheet with plastic solar cells can charge a mobile phone in an hour in full sunlight. A laptop PC however requires more power and so a larger solar cell area.
The speed at which the efficiency of the solar cells has been improved in the last few months surprises Danish manufacturer of solar cells Photonic Energy.
Jacob Waehrens, director of Photonic Energy told Børsen: "Although we make larger systems and do not have plastic solar cells as a core area, it sounds very interesting. Our objective is the same however: to make solar cell power competitive with the power you get from coal-fired power stations, wind turbines and other places. And we are certainly at the head of the queue to enter a collaboration when they [Risø/DTU's plastic solar cells - Ed] become even more competitive."