Currently, only 1 percent of the world’s total energy production is derived from solar power, but the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported that rooftop solar panels could supply 40 percent of all U.S. energy. While it may be a while before that goal is reached, NREL reported that with tax credit extensions, the U.S. is on track to add 53 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by the year 2020. One of the companies innovating in renewable energy technology and making solar more accessible is Sunflare, which claims to be the first company to successfully mass produce flexible, light and affordable copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) panels.
Its newest innovation, Capture4 technology, is a patented cell-by-cell manufacturing process that increases precision and decreases the environmental footprint involved with producing CIGS panels. “Sunflare has worked for six years to perfect Capture4, a cell-by-cell manufacturing process with the highest degree of precision and the cleanest environmental footprint,” said CEO Philip Gao. ” This allows us to do what no manufacturer of CIGS thin film has done before: mass produce efficient, flexible solar panels.”
Compared to the traditionally used Silicon cells, Sunflare’s technology has thin layers of semiconductors and omits glass substrates, thus producing a more flexible and lighter panel. The lack of toxic materials and reduced energy required to produce Sunflare’s panels makes it a more environmentally friendly option. Sunflare products also capture 10 percent more energy than traditional crystalline Silicon at a comparable cost of $1.50 per watt for Sunflare and $1.51 per watt for a glass panel.
The light weight of Sunflare panels makes it optimal for installation on commercial buildings, as it’s more than 65 percent lighter than Silicon models. The decreased weight allows an entire roof to be covered in solar panels without load-bearing concerns. The flexibility of the panels allows for installation nearly anywhere: on vertical, horizontal or even curved surfaces. For multifamily communities, the opportunities to turn unused space into a solar power plant are endless.