Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Active Surfaces

Ultra-light solar power for the built environment

Property & Construction

The next-generation panels are over 100 times lighter than conventional solutions

Spotted: While solar panel prices decrease, installations increase, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that around 402 gigawatts of additional global solar capacity will be built in 2024. And, as new designs of solar panels begin reaching the market, this capacity could grow even faster. 

In the US, startup Active Surfaces has introduced its low-cost, flexible, and lightweight solar modules that make installation possible in many new locations. The company is an MIT spinout, and the module design is based on 10 years of research. Rather than use fragile silicon that needs to be encased in protective barriers, Active Surfaces’ solar material is thinner than a human hair and incredibly flexible, making it possible to install solar panels on almost any surface. 

The company’s modules are 120 times lighter than traditional systems and reduce structural costs significantly. Active Surface’s focus is on dual-purpose spaces rather than single-use solar farms that require significant tracts of land. The flexibility and ultra-light weight of the company’s modules make them usable in relatively small and oddly shaped spaces, of which there are many in cities – from balconies and older roofs to public buildings and transport.  

Another transformative aspect of Active Surfaces’ technology is the company’s focus on economic accessibility. With patented rapid manufacturing techniques and lightweight packaging, the business passes cost savings onto the end user. What is more, less heavy-duty equipment is required to move the modules into place and secure them, further reducing installation costs while bringing down the time it takes to complete a project.

Written By: Keely Khoury and Matthew Hempstead



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