Photovoltaics (PV), or solar cells, are a technology used to turn sunlight into electricity. Solar cells provide many advantages over other power generation sources. The cost of solar power is continuing to decrease and become competitive with utility-provided electricity. They provide a long-lasting, completely non-polluting source of electrical power, which can be stored in batteries, directly used, or fed back into the utility grid. Solar cells produce the most power during the hours of the day when electricity is most in demand (peak demand) – usually between 10am and 4pm depending on location. This allows solar cells to offset a greater portion of electricity costs. In addition, solar cells are produced using clean manufacturing techniques. They are produced in much the same manner as other semiconductor products, which have a low carbon footprint and little wasted materials.
Newer types of solar cells are becoming lighter and more efficient than their predecessors. One of the newer cell technologies, used in ShadePlex’s products, is thin-film amorphous silicon cells. Thin-film amorphous silicon offers several advantages over standard crystalline cells. These cells, as their name would imply, are much thinner than traditional cells, and thus much lighter. This lighter weight allows them to be used in applications that could not support the full weight of conventional cells. Thin film cells are also flexible, enabling them to be bent, rolled, and twisted along with the fabric to which they are attached. Additionally, amorphous silicon cells absorb more of the light spectrum than conventional cells, allowing them to operate both earlier and later in the day, and on cloudy days, capturing and producing additional energy compared with conventional solar cells. In production, thin film cells are especially eco-friendly because they use about 1/100 of the silicon used in conventional cells.
For more information about solar and thin-film solar, here are some useful resources:
Architectural building fabrics are high strength, durable, long-lasting membranes used for a variety of structural, industrial, agricultural and environmental purposes. These are not traditional fabrics in the sense of cotton or polyester clothing fabrics. Architectural building fabrics incorporate advanced material combinations and coatings, enhancing their structural properties. Structural fabrics are currently used for a wide variety of applications including sports domes, aircraft hangers, storage buildings and warehouses, shade structures, roofing membranes, and emergency shelters. They offer several advantages over conventional building materials. They are much lighter than a metal covering, and as such they can be supported by less structure than a similarly sized metal building. They are also cheaper to assemble, and can often be taken down and reassembled elsewhere, giving them a versatility of both permanence and portability not seen in any other building type. Architectural fabric buildings can accomplish all this without compromising the durability, safety, or size of a conventional building. Fabric buildings offer the same resistance to inclement weather, including waterproofing and stability in high winds, as metal structures. Synthetic fabrics offer special coatings to provide chemical and UV resistance, giving most a useful life of at least 20 – 30 years.