Solar cells need films to protect them from air and water vapor.
Traditionally, glass has been used to protect the active layers of solar cells to protect them from the environment, but Dr. Klaus Noller from Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising and Dr. Sabine Amberg-Schwab from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg have developed a new plastic film suited for encapsulating solar cells.
So what are the advantages to using plastic over glass for photovoltaics?
"The films are considerably lighter – and flexible,” says Noller. “They make new production processes possible that enable significant reductions in the cost of manufacturing a photovoltaic module."
Instead of working with individual glass plates, the solar cells could be printed onto a plastic film and then encapsulated with the barrier film: photovoltaic modules on a roll.
With the shift to renewable and sustainable energies becoming a factor for a wide variety of facilities worldwide, cutting the costs of solar cell technology with these new plastic films may be an intriguing option.
Solar Power Catches a Virus
The Next Wave of Solar
DOE Works to Cut Solar Costs by 75%