A KickStarter project shows how solar panel factories could become a feature of any neighborhood, producing cheap solar panels for an age when these would become truly mass consumption items.
Devised by inventors Shayne Frayne and Alex Hornstein, the duo has come up with a concept called “solar pocket factory” to produce cheaper small-scale panels and more efficient in terms of solar energy generation.
The silicon solar panels would be printed, which brings the price down. The printing machine could reach a production output of 300,000 to one million panels a year, they say.
“We figured that if we could automate the production and testing, we could save about 25% of the cost of a panel. Precise, repeatable assembly and automated quality testing could cut down on the number of panels that have manufacturing defects and help us rework the ones that do, further decreasing our costs. We could put some of those savings into using high quality materials, so our panels will last longer and gather more light. As an end result, we could make microsolar panels about 30% cheaper than the existing panels and make them last five times longer in the sun.”
The project combines the DIY ethos with alternative energy. Best of all, all the space needed to set up a small solar panel factory is the size of a picnic table.
So far the project has attracted US$77,504 in funding and the team hopes to complete it by April 2013.
What do you think? Could solar pocket factories take off?
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.