The US manufacturer of organic solar cells Konarka Technologies has expanded its strategic partnerships internationally. At a press conference at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition, EU PV SEC, on 7 September in Hamburg, Germany, representatives of Konarka, as well as of the new partners Lapp Kabel, ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, Bischoff Glastechnik and the Fraunhofer IWES presented plans for their cooperation.
“Many façade surfaces lend themselves well to photovoltaics, but today lie idle. Until recently the right technology had simply been lacking”, said Dr. Lars Pfeiffer, responsible for Quality and Development of the business unit Color/Construction of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG. The company plans to integrate Konarka’s cells in metal facades, thereby producing a multifunctional as well as an aesthetic product, which not only takes over the task of encasing the building, but produces solar power as well. “The development of such environmentally friendly products goes along ideally with the concern’s guiding principle: ‘Steel goes green’”, Pfeiffer adds.
Highly Efficient and Inexpensive
The continuous process Konarka uses in production (roll-to-roll) is also an established method at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe. “Refining large surfaces is what we do every day. Our Coil-Coating process for the manufacture of high quality products is highly efficient and, thus, inexpensive. Konarka’s processes fit ideally to these construction cycles, even when our steel rings are slightly heavier than the foil rolls Konarka has previously used”, said Pfeiffer.
In addition to their integration in steel facades, the organic cells will also be integrated into glass facades. Together with Bischoff Glastechnik AG (BGT), Konarka is planning to develop, within the scope of a pilot project, highly efficient, long-lasting and inexpensive glass-glass modules for building integration. “Architects enjoy playing with colour and design when they design facades”, said Klaus Wittmann, CEO at BGT. “The market demands transparency, design options and flexible forms. Together with Konarka we have been able to meet these requirements.”
The connections for the modules come from the Lapp Kabel. This company counts among the world’s leading providers of cables and conductors. “Along with Konarka, we want to ring in the next generation of photovoltaics and be a part of this sustainable growth”, said Guide Ege, leader of System Products at Lapp Kabel at the press conference.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology IWES will be in charge of characterising the Konarka modules. “We would like to act as a broker between the construction and solar branch, so that the prerequisites and standards between both sides are optimally harmonised,” said IWES employee Siwanand Misara.
“For new, intelligent construction materials, we can provide the appropriate technology, thereby offering our partners added value for their products”, said Alexander Valenzuela, Konarka’s vice president of Business Development Europe. “We are proud of being able to work in the future with such renowned companies leading the market”, added Howard Berke, CEO and co-founder of Konarka. Konarka plans to conduct the first pilot projects before the end of the year in southern Germany and in Great Britain.