Tata Steel, India’s leading supplier of stainless steel, in partnership with the Australian solar technology company Dyesol, has recently developed the world’s largest girder coated with solar panels.
As the two companies claim, the prototype girder was made as one continuous coated steel 10 feet long that can capture both diffuse and direct light.
It is true that the new process has a conversion efficiency of around 10%, compared to 30% achieved with rigid-silicon cells. The advantage is that Tata Steel will now have the possibility to integrate solar cells in building materials in volume for a low price.
Tata also plans to develop a long list of building-integrated photovoltaics that include windows, roofs and facades. There are also other personal items incorporated with flexible thin-film solar cells like backpacks, laptop cases, or luggage.