World Premiere: Organic Solar Cells for Building Integrated Photovoltaics

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Bayer Sheet Europe, Bischoff Glastechnik, and Thyssen Krupp integrate solar cells from Konarka Technologies into building facades – new connection technology from Lapp Group

Nuremburg / Stuttgart,

Konarka Technologies is starting as the first company world-wide to manufacture organic solar cells for building-integrated applications. In the consumer sector the innovative solar cells of the American manufacturer have been used successfully for many years. For their integration into buildings, the technology leader was now able to win over the cable manufacturer Lapp Kabel GmbH, the industrial concerns Bayer Sheet Europe and Thyssen Krupp, Bischoff Glastechnik, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) as partners. Within the scope of a press conference at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PV SEC) in Hamburg, the companies will be explaining their cooperation on 7 September.

Thin, Light, and Flexible

In the organic modules, a dye gives off electrons. The flow of current results from an electrochemical reaction. “Our product is really green and completely recyclable”, explains Alexander Valenzuela, Konarka’s Vice President Business Development Europe. For the organic cells can be made – in stark contrast to conventional modules – at low temperatures, thereby preserving both energy and resources. Konarka manufactures them like newspapers are made, with the so-called roll-to-roll process. The modules are thin, light, and flexible and can be integrated not only into glass and construction materials, but also into structures giving shade, foils, and textiles. For these modules, Lapp has developed a new connection box, the EPIC ® SOLAR MAP, which was recently exhibited at the Intersolar Fair. The connection box is welded, thus enabling it to be attached to the organic modules from Konarka in a fully automated manner.

Freedom of Scope for Planners and Architects

Semi-transparency, any colour or colour mixtures are possible. Since the solar cells also tolerate unfavourable irradiation angles and shadows, they lend themselves to building integration superbly.

This also convinced the strategic partners. “Konarka is an innovative company with a great potential for growth”, explains Guido Ege, Head of the System Products at Lapp Kabel. “In our companies’ expertise we complement each other very well.”

“In Lapp Kabel, Bayer Sheet Europe, Bishoff Glastechnik, and Thyssen Krupp, we have found partners with industrial approaches that we need to produce large numbers of pieces in a highly automated fashion – and that at the highest quality”, says Valenzuela. While Lapp will develop the entire connection technology for the modules, the other partners will integrate the organic cells into their construction materials. The Fraunhofer IWES will support the team by certifying and testing the construction products. The first pilot projects should begin shortly.

On Konarka Technologies

As a technology leader in this sector, Konarka Technologies has been producing organic solar cells since 2001. The core of the technology is a photo-reactive polymer that Konarka co-founder and Nobel-prize winner Dr. Alan Heeger developed. The company has more than 350 patents and has around 110 employees at its headquarters in Lowell, Massachusetts (USA) as well as at its branch offices in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Nuremburg (Germany), and Linz (Austria).

On Lapp Group

Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, the Lapp Group is a leading supplier of integrated wire, cabling, and connector products and solutions. Its offering includes electrical and fibre optic cables, industrial plug-in and screw connectors, cabling solutions, automation technology, and technical accessories. Lapp Group’s core markets are in the mechanical and plant engineering and electronics manufacturing sectors, with rapid market expansion in the renewable energy, mobility, and life science industries.
Lapp Group has remained in continuous family ownership since it was founded in 1959. In the 2009/10 financial year, it recorded total consolidated sales of 633 million euros. It employs some 2,800 people, operates 15 production sites, and 40 sales companies and cooperates with approximately 100 national partners worldwide.

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