u don’t need to call in a contractor to hang a poster on the wall, and soon the same might be true of hanging solar panels. A Los Angeles-based startup called Sunflare says it has solved that problem with a new type of solar panel that is light and flexible, allowing it to be hung anyplace with just a bit of adhesive.
The problem with adding solar panels to existing structures (regardless of how efficient they might be) is that the panels themselves are heavy and need to be installed properly. For example, expensive reinforced scaffolding is often needed on the roofs of homes. Sunflare says its new panels can be put up on the side of a building with nothing more than a 3M sticky tab.
It doesn’t even matter if the surface you want to stick these panels to isn’t completely flat. Part of the reason they’re so light is that Sunflare managed to do away with the glass substrate required of other CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) type solar cells. Unlike the traditional silicon crystal panels, these CIGS panels can be manufactured with just a flexible thin film. If an expensive silicone panel bends or gets smacked, it may very well break.
Sunflare is also claiming it has improved the efficiency of these panels compared to the silicon variety. They can produce 10% more energy throughout the day thanks to better light absorption in low-light. Sunflare has also reduced glare to boost performance during the hottest part of the day. Plus, the panels are cheaper to produce, bringing them in-line with existing technology. This is a major improvement over past flexible solar panel designs.
This all sounds great — maybe too great. Sunflare is a new company making big claims. Time will tell if the claims end up being accurate. It would be neat if you could just duct tape some solar panels to your roof.