A major challenge to the installation of renewable, solar power generations system is lag-time experienced in recouping the initial investment and reaching break-even. With most of the solar industry focused on increasing photovoltaic efficiency to reduce cost there’s one small company that thinks it can provide a unique cost-cutting solution in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells: BioSolar, a California technology company, is creating a bio-based material to replace petroleum-based plastic in the production of photovoltaic solar modules.
Petroleum-based plastics are used in the production of virtually all PV solar modules. With the cost of plastics steadily increasing due to rising oil prices, efforts to make solar energy cost competitive with conventional fossil fuels has continued to present a challenge.
Additionally, petroleum-based plastics are not environmentally neutral. Traditional PV backsheets are produced mainly from polyester and Tedlar films. Polyester is made from petroleum and Tedlar is solvent-cast using DMAC, a highly toxic industrial solvent. Both of these materials defeat the goal of clean and green solar energy. Issues with the use of these materials will only increase as the demand for solar module increases.
Biosolar‘s new material is designed to offer the durability and performance characteristics of conventional petroleum-based plastics, as well as possessing the electromagnetic properties, mechanical strength, dimensional stability, and weatherability demanded by PV solar applications. By toughening-up inexpensive and fragile bio-based materials for solar applications, BioSolar ultimately hopes to reduce the cost of PV modules, making solar power a more earth-friendly, robust and affordable option for both large scale and residential applications.