Risø/DTU, Denmark's National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, is developing a rather different type of solar cell than the convention silicon model – for one thing it's made of plastic, and for another is can be literally printed onto rolls of film. Of course, being a new and developing technology it can't be expected to immediately compete on cost per watt basis. But progress on that front is being made surprisingly quickly, reports professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer).
Last summer, the cost efficiency of Risø/DTU's plastic solar cell was a rather academic DKK 33,500 per watt. But in January this year, the price had dropped dramatically to DKK 165 per watt, and then in March to DKK 112 per watt. And by the end of this year, it is expected that the price will have dropped below DKK 37 per watt, a 1000-fold reduction since summer 2008.
In collaboration with Mekoprint and Gaia Solar, a demonstration array is now to be built at Risø/DTU's Roskilde facility where it will be integrated into the lighting grid. Risø/DTU director Henrik Bindslev told Ingeniøren:
"The demonstration is a wonderful example of how collaboration between research and industry can advance technological development and create the first foundation for implementation of a new technology in society."
Mekoprint specialises in producing flexprint and printed electronics on rolls of film, while Gaia Solar is using its modular solar panel as a frame for the new plastic solar cell. The new solar array will be mounted on a steerable tower, so that the installation can track the path of the sun across the sky.
Risø/DTU, Mekoprint, and Gaia Solar are hoping that the new technology will generate considerable export potential.