Covering the roof of every south-facing warehouse, factory and office with solar panels would satisfy the UK’s entire electricity demand. But the country generates barely 1 per cent of its energy this way – a massive missed opportunity considering it’s meant to be carbon neutral by 2050, advocates say. While total coverage of south-facing commercial building rooves is clearly unfeasible, a major barrier to a more realistic figure of 10 to 50 per cent has been that existing solar technology is often too heavy for them. And although lighter, more flexible, alternatives have been developed, they are relatively rare as they are less efficient and a lot more expensive. Now, a company from Sunderland could be about to change that after developing a new kind of light-weight miniature solar technology that is stuck onto the roof and is well on the way to being much cheaper and at least as effective as many existing flexible panels. Assuming the final tests go according to plan, the developers hope to start selling their 0.3 mm thick solar “film” around the middle of next year. Their film could also be stuck on car, boat, caravan, lorry and flat household rooves – although the main opportunity for large-scale generation initially lies with commercial buildings, the developers say. Further down the line, the film could be adapted to make it suitable for sloping, tiled, household roofs, by incorporating it into the tiles of new buildings and developing a version that can be stuck onto existing tiles of older properties.
iNews 18th June 2021 read more »