With support from Aalen-based lightweight-construction specialist Gaugler & Lutz , the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP in Halle and OPES Solutions in Berlin have developed a new type of solar module known as O-Lite-Plus. It weighs just 20 g per watt output. Conventional modules achieve a performance weight of 60 g per watt. According to OPES, the price should remain approximately the same once the new modules go into mass production.
The weight reduction was achieved by using polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for the back of the module. To some extent, the solar cells are laminated with a coating of PET. PET is primarily used in the production of plastic bottles, although PET foam has other applications such as rotor construction at wind-power plants. The PET developed by Fraunhofer and OPES is considerably lighter, and purportedly more weather-resistant, than comparable materials such as fiberglass or PCB. Due to the material’s properties and its low weight, O-Lite-Plus modules can also be bent. This makes them particularly suitable for use in vehicle construction or for small mobile devices, for example.