Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

FabriGen — Result In Brief

Project ID: 286605
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: United Kingdom

Flexible solar cells on fabrics

EU-funded researchers designed flexible organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells over 6 m long and 3 m wide. This opens up new opportunities for creating thin, lightweight large-area PV panels with potentially lower cost.
Flexible solar cells on fabrics
Currently, the EU faces strong competition from China's solar panel industry that exports panels at very low prices. To fend off competition, there has been a turn to non-silicon-based and thin-film PV technologies. However, these technologies have only marginal benefits and installation requirements are similar to conventional solar panels. In addition, modules are mostly rigid panels and cannot be integrated into large structures without modifying the architecture design.

The EU-funded project FABRIGEN (Fabric structures for solar power generation) decreased module and installation costs by combining flexible OPV materials with tensile fabrics using roll-to-roll production techniques. The ability to produce the panels on fabric surfaces means that complex shapes can be designed to maximise solar collection.

Covering large areas with flexible polymer structures costs less than glass, with applications spanning from walkway shades, bus stops and carport covers to arcades and stadiums. The organic solar cells also do not contain the customary indium-tin-oxide that is scarce, expensive and brittle. Instead, project partners used aluminium that is cheaper and can be scaled up to produce aluminium foils.

FABRIGEN modules comply with European and international standards and regulations for implementation in off-grid as well as grid-connected or feed-in-tariff (FIT) power schemes. In the short term, FIT plans provide operators with incentive for investment by paying them for energy produced in their installed systems such as shades.

In the long term, scientists envision a final system in which FIT schemes will be unnecessary given the low cost of the PV technology compared to grid prices. Taken together, the materials and technology promise to bring the cost of solar power on par with that of conventional energy.

Reduced production, transportation and operating costs should encourage investment in PV solar power. The technology is truly pioneering as there is nothing comparable available on the market today. FABRIGEN hopes to see shades and awnings made of PVs across Europe that not only provide heat and shade but also generate electricity.

Related information

Keywords

Solar cells, organic photovoltaic, fabric structures, solar power, tensile fabrics, roll-to-roll
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