Forget the Iron Curtain—we'll all be living behind solar curtains if Konarka Technologies has its way. The organic solar cell company has teamed up with Arch Aluminum and Glass to test out so-called "solar curtains," or walls of solar panels integrated into buildings. The curtains, which are made out of Konarka's plastic solar film and encased in glass, are certainly attractive. But do they make sense?
Konarka's pilot project will take place at an Arch office building in Tamarac, Florida, where the south and east-facing walls will be covered in solar cells. The cells are expected to generate 1.5 kW of power for the facility, but panels of Konarka's plastic cells only have 3% efficiency (compared to 22% for ultra-efficient silicon cells). Add in the high costs of installation, electrical wiring, and maintenance, and the solar curtains hardly seem worth it.
That's not to say we should give up on building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) forever. Konarka claims that it has produced cells in its lab that get up to 6.4% efficiency. These cells could one day be commercialized. Konarka and Arch will find out potential manufacturing and installation costs for the solar curtains once the pilot project is over, but for now, we should probably remain content with rooftop solar.
[Via Greentech Media]