FabriGen Project Develops Large Flexible PV Production
CPI has collaborated towards a European research and development project named ‘FabriGen’ to produce organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells of over 6m long and 50cm wide. The project, which involved six partners from four different countries, involved manufacturing a demonstrator that combines flexible OPV materials with tensile fabrics utilising roll to roll production techniques. Some 16 m² of active-area material was produced for the final demonstrators.
The aim of project FabriGen was to work towards ambitious European targets for renewable energy generation by bringing new innovative solar energy products to market. The development of organic photovoltaics with flexible form factors opens up a host of opportunities for designers to embed energy harvesting and functionality into their products, creating the opportunity for new, innovative large area solar panels that are thinner, lightweight and potentially lower cost.
The flexible nature of OPV provides a number of advantages for the solar power industry. The ability to produce the panels on fabric or plastic surfaces means that complex shapes and structures can be designed to maximise solar collection. In addition the technology will enable the production of large area panels manufactured in a cost and resource efficient manner, to bring the costs of solar power on par with that of conventional energy.
FabriGen focused on developing the technology for applications such as, large scale tensile membrane structures for example ‘The Millennium Dome’ Stadia covers, and smaller scale permanent installations such as solar car park covers, marquees, walkways and textile facades for buildings. A key aspect of the research was the development and integration of barrier encapsulation layers to provide the long-life performance that is needed for outdoor use.
FabriGen: ‘Fabric structures for solar power generation’ was a European Framework Programme Seven project which ran from October 2011 to April 2014.