Clean Power

Published on November 10th, 2012 | by Nicholas Brown


Ascent Solar Technologies Selected By U.S. Air Force For Advanced Flexible Lightweight Photovoltaics

November 10th, 2012 by  

Ascent Solar Technologies was selected for the Air Force SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) Phase 2 award to demonstrate its next flexible lightweight photovoltaic technology built upon its existing flexible, monolithically integrated, thin-film CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide) one.

The Air Force SBIR Phase 2 program is expected to operate for 24 months with a program value of up to $750,000.

Ascent Solar Powered Phone Charger.

“Solar cells perform best at lower temperatures, but they can get hot during normal operation,” stated Victor Lee, President and CEO at Ascent Solar Technologies, a developer of flexible, thin-film solar technology.

“Modifying our existing technology can improve its performance at higher temperatures. This Air Force program builds upon significant work already conducted by our team in this area. After program completion, we envision a new product that will perform over 30% better under some operating conditions that utilize process modifications that can be used in our existing manufacturing line.”

Looks promising.


The Problem With Solar Panels

Unfortunately, solar panels need to receive as much sunlight as possible, and some sunlight turns into heat when it reaches the panel, while the rest is converted into electricity. More sunlight translates to more heat, and lower efficiency, but still a greater power output.

Fortunately, power output can be increased more by cooling the solar panels using heat sinks, or liquid cooling systems. Heat sinks can be helpful without using any electricity if they are passive, but the active type performs much better. The active type utilizes a fan to pass air through it to help dissipate the panel’s heat faster.

Another innovative idea is to get the most out of electricity-generating solar panels by utilizing the heat they absorb from the sun to heat water, increasing their overall energy yield.

Otherwise, improvements in performance like those Ascent Solar is delivering are certainly helpful.

Source: Business Wire
Photo Credit: Ascent Solar Website

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • wattleberry

    Question is, what to do with the hot water, which is what I suspect is part of the reason why this obvious system is not being adopted more enthusiastically? This would vary with the setting of course but one could easily envisage mixed use for space heating etc with surplus,say, powering more electricity generation through a turbine so there would be little waste.

    No doubt this is already in operation, maybe in numerous applications, but it isn’t making the headlines.

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