Flexible solar panels make better use of space. An innovative installation at the Moll de pescadors in the Port of Barcelona.

A few weeks ago, one of the most innovative photovoltaic installations in the city was presented at the Port of Barcelona. The installation carried out on the Moll de Pescadors is part of the LIVE BIVP (Building-integrated Photovoltaics) project coordinated by COMSA and co-financed by the European LIFE programme.

29.5kWp have been installed with the aim of demonstrating solutions to integrate photovoltaic modules in buildings with complex roofs and promote the generation of clean energy in all types of structures and buildings.

Our installers have assembled 584 solar panels with peculiar characteristics: they are made of a lightweight, flexible organic material that is easy to install. These innovative solar panels have been developed by the German company Heliatek and it is estimated that, by the end of the year, they will produce 43.4 MWh of electricity.

The solar panels used in this project are substantially different from the panels commonly used in photovoltaic installations. Heliasol is the prototype that the German company is working on and it is a model of flexible solar panel with adhesive layer on its back.

In this way, the materials used for manufacturing, as well as their lightness, allow users to reduce the amounts of materials required for assembly.

The technology of flexible panel without a rigid frame, allows them to adhere directly to the roof without the need for the entire structure that would typically be required. In addition, it allows you to adapt to different types of structure. In the case of the Moll de Pesacadors project, the roof has an oval shape, which makes this panel model better suited than a usual rigid crystalline silicon panel with a rigid aluminium frame.

In addition, although a regular panel with its life cycle analysis usually involves an emission of gases of around 40 or 50gCO2 equivalent for each kWh generated, the flexible panels installed their emissions fall below 10gCO2. The organic materials used for their manufacture, and not using elements of the so-called rare earths, mean a reduction in the environmental impact of this technology.

However, the cell itself has an efficiency of around 7%, unlike the commonly installed monocrystalline silicon panels that are around 20%. Despite the current limitations, it is a technology that over the years will improve efficiency and provide multiple uses.