The German solar producer Sulfurcell produces these durable solar integrated panels as cladding modules that can be designed onto new buildings as well as retrofitted onto old buildings to power the building. The exterior is hardened glass; on the back is thinfilm.
The retrofit is possible because each module is hung like a conventional cladding system on the outside of the building installed on a substructure, so even uneven exterior surfaces could be used.
Each module of hardened, frameless glass contains a solar module in a cassette behind the glass. The modules are patent-protected by Sulfurcell who collaborated with leading research institutions such as the Helmholtz Center Berlin and the University of Oldenburg in their development.
Sulfurcell uses a thinfilm technology, derived from Indium (which it claims is more commonly available than silver in the earths crust). Only one thin semiconductor layer is coated on the back of the hardened glass surface, thinner than a hair and a hundred times thinner than traditional silicon wafers.
Each module has 82 strips of thinfilm solar cells coated on the back and integrated wiring cable inside. Yet the hardened glass itself withstands snow, wind and hail and is controlled against longterm UV radiation.
To keep the solar cool for maximum efficiency, the cassettes are rear-ventilated and have recessed drainage channels which direct rainwater around each cassette. They have manufactured in Germany since 2003. Are they available in the US? You’d have to contact them and see.
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.