I got to have a chat with the CEO of an innovative solar technology company recently, David Lee, PhD. The company is BioSolar and what makes it unique is that its product results in more environmentally friendly, more durable, and cheaper solar panels. A triple win.
I know, solar’s one of the greenest power options out there, and is worlds apart from coal or natural gas, so “more environmentally friendly” might be confusing. However, some components and processes used in making solar panels are still environmentally harmful. BioSolar is tackling a couple of those. Additionally, in the process, it is also making a product that will last longer and cost less.
According to Dr. Lee, BioSolar’s key strengths are as follows:
- The panels use a “bio-backsheet” made of non-petroleum-based, non-toxic, recyclable castor beans instead of commonly used petroleum-based plastics (which are made using toxic manufacturing processes).
- The material used in the backsheet is more durable than these traditional materials, making the panels as a whole more durable.
- Whereas most panels include 3 layers of backsheet, BioSolar’s backsheets are monolithic (only include 1 layer). Inter-layers are a weak link in solar panels, as they often become de-laminated over time.
- Panels using BioSolar’s backsheet should also be cheaper than their counterparts, since they use less of the expensive materials of solar panels.
“BioSolar materials can be used as drop-in replacements directly in conventional manufacturing processes,” the company reports. “Whether solar cells are produced using crystalline silicon, amorphous silicon or other solar technologies, BioSolar can help reduce the cost per watt through the use of its lower cost bio-based materials.”
While much of the focus of reducing solar power costs is on efficiency breakthroughs, important component breakthroughs or advancements like these are another great way to reduce costs.
BioSolar’s panels received Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) certification back in February and the USDA BioPreferred label in June, enabling the potential for high-volume sales to government agencies, and I’m told that a couple of big announcements are expected. It is still in the “early commercialization” stage, I was told, but the company just took one important step forward on the US stock exchange this week and looks like it has a lot of promise. I’ll let you know more as more announcements become public and the company moves forward.
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.