Yesterday I wrote a post on The Advantages Of Thin Film Solar Panels and today I’m inspired to take this topic a bit further and write about my vision for the future of small flexible solar panels.
There are so many good uses for a flexible solar panel that it’s hard to narrow them down to just the few that I’ll be talking about in this post. These compact PV panels can be easily folded or rolled up for easy transport and deployment. I won’t talk specifically about the technology that is used to manufacture these types of PV panels because I’ve already covered that in the article I referenced above.
Some innovative companies are finding ways to integrate flexible PV panels into various clothing articles. Think about the possibilities that this idea has. For example, if you’re a cross country cyclist, wouldn’t it just make sense to have a solar panel integrated into the back section of your shirt? You’ll already be spending hours with the sun beating down on your back; why not plug your cell phone into a solar panel that you’re wearing and put the sun to some good use? This just seems to make so much sense to me.
Another use of this technology would be to install flexible portable solar panels on hats. People all over the world wear large hats to keep the sun from burning their skin. Imagine a Mexican sombrero that had solar panels on it? Now THAT would be an effective use of space! My family enjoys horseback riding. If flexible solar film could somehow be integrated into our riding helmets, our GPS devices and cell phones could be charging during our ride! That would be perfect for us!
The usefulness of the flexible solar cell isn’t limited to items that have them integrated into the design either. There are many other practical uses for these panels. One that comes to mind is a fordable solar panel that can be easily carried on a backpacking trip. Many backpackers hike 10 or more miles each day. This means that they aren’t anywhere near a power source that they can use to recharge their GPS or their cell phone batteries. If one person in the group carried a folding solar panel, they wouldn’t have to carry extra batteries with them.
Backpackers are constantly looking for ways to reduce the amount of weight that they have to carry and this would be a great way to do that. The use of this technology would mean that when they arrived at camp, they could unfold or unroll their portable solar power charging station and let their small electronic devices charge while they are hanging out in camp.
Here’s a video that demonstrates this technology in use. The product that is demonstrated in the video is the GoalZero Nomad 7 folding solar panel. It’s perfect for backpacking and it actually has a USB port built right into it.
The possibilities are virtually endless! The image below is something that I made up that shows examples of some of the ways a folding solar panel could be used.