It is safe to say that solar power has been on a roll over this past decade. The number of rooftop solar owners increased drastically, while the technology kept getting better and better. In order to optimize the usability, inventors and developers not only focused on improvement in solar cell efficiency, but they also moved on to more creative and flexible designs.
One such invention comes from John Hingly at Renovagen, who designed and developed a super flexible solar panel that can be rolled up and out. The concept is a bit like that of a beach towel. You drive to your camp site, take out your towel and roll it on the beach, then take out your solar panel, and roll out it right next. Plug in your car, put on the sun lotion and recharge both your and your car’s batteries. Nice, ah?
Currently, the design has a maximum capacity of 18 kW, and comes with a 53 kWh lithium energy storage system, as well as fans and filters for ventilation and cooling. In size, it fits into a container of the size of an air pallet, meaning that it can easily fit in a helicopter, a plane, or a truck. It can go from a “zero-to-hero” in a matter of minutes, so no puzzling with instructions or complicated set up maneuvers are required.
The incredible flexible property of the roll-out solar power system come from the copper indium gallium selenide solar cells (CIGS), which are bonded with tensile fabric. They are strong and rigid, allowing multiple rolling in’s and out’s without any damage. According to Hingly, if you have one of these systems at hand, you don’t need any other power source for a good period of 24 hours. He calls it a fully functional microgrid.
The system is perfect for camping, powering festivals, aiding the mining industry and providing emergency power. One big beneficiary could be the army, who spend huge amounts of money and risk great number of lives, only to deliver that emergency fuel.
So, what is next? The plan is to bring the size of the design to that of a shipping container. Coupled with a large energy storage system, this very easy to transport solar power generator, will be about 5 meters in width and 200m in length, when rolled out. It is expected that this system would easily generate about 600KW, and with this it would be the largest solar array that can be deployed.
Image (c) Renovagen