23 June 2008

It's curtains for solar power


No, I mean that literally. Who says that solar power requires bulky, roof-mounted glass panels? Certainly not Sheila Kennedy, principal architect of Kennedy & Violich Architecture in Boston. Kennedy has developed what she's calling solar textiles; thin, membrane-like materials that can be draped or can cover walls or roofs. In a prototype she just finished displaying in Germany called "Soft House" (it's what's pictured here), Kennedy made patio draperies for a pre-fab structure that could generate 16,000 watt-hours of electricity.

Solar textiles are new and they utilize organic photovoltaics (OPVs), the next generation in solar power. At this stage of the game though, OPVs are less efficient than the old-school silicon-based photovoltaics. OPVs are the new name of the game though, and look for their efficiencies to improve as their prices come down over time. Brace yourself kids, the future is now.

Many thanks to my pals at Treehugger.com for the heads up on this terrific story.

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