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Published on August 6th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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BioSolar, Making Solar Panels Cheaper, More Environmentally Friendly, & More Durable

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August 6th, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
 
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:

  1. 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).
  2. The material used in the backsheet is more durable than these traditional materials, making the panels as a whole more durable.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • shayne

    This sounds a lot like what Paul Hawken’s One Sun solar company is doing. Anyone know if they are related?

    • Anonymous

      not sure — don’t think so, though. haven’t heard of Hawken’s project

  • Wlcman

    It is harmful to freeze to death or burn to a cinder in the summer also. Electric bills are making us go broke in Dallas,texas

    • Anonymous

      hmm, not sure what your point is. yes, climate change is real and is already affecting us. yes, solar power is a good antidote to it, a key one. yes, solar costs are dropping while fossil fuel costs are rising,.. the faster we make the switch to a clean energy economy, the better.

  • Wlcman

    What is the truth anymore? are these people just trying to squeeze you for your money or do solar panels actually work?

    • Anonymous

      not exactly sure what the question is… of course, solar panels work. this is why large numbers of people around the world are using them and the solar industry is growing super fast.

      but this article is about a new solar panel backsheet product..

  • Anonymous

    Cool, thanks. Yeah, the details of solar panel backsheets were completely new to me

  • Dietirch

    Would the “big annoucements” forth coming possibly be related to the provisional UL approval of RTI testing?

    • Anonymous

      I actually have no idea.

      Just told exactly what i wrote above.

  • Andrew

    How efficient is it? Most of the awesome innovations in Solar seem to suffer from low efficency… So low cost, but also low efficiency.

    • Anonymous

      Well, it’s a backsheet product, not very related to efficiency of the cells.

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