Portable solar to provide relief for disasters and off-grid mines

Roll-Deployed PV Array
Roll-Deployed PV Array

A UK solar PV company has developed a thin and lightweight portable solar solution for off-grid power generation.

Renovagen’s solar panels are attached together on a strong flexible fabric that can be pulled out into a 50m-long system in two minutes – like carpet.

The system stores generated energy in batteries in the steel housing, and is hoped to provide relief in disasters were power systems have been knocked out, by armies on the move, and in mining stations located in areas without any power.

The system uses copper indium gallium selenide solar cells (CIGS) that are bonded with a tensile fabric. The strength of the combined material can cope with being rolled in and out, and it can be in full operation a few minutes after it is deployed. It has all of the components integrated into it needed to run a 24-hour microgrid.

“The market for off-grid energy is huge and growing – 24 per cent of the world is off-grid, but everyone needs energy,” Mr Hingley told The Guardian.

Other possible uses could be at festivals and in filming, where quiet energy generation is needed, Mr Hingley said.

The company’s founder, John Hingley, said he got the idea from carrying around a lightweight solar panel – with enough capacity to power his phone, camera and computer – in his backpack while trekking through Nepal.

An initial prototype had a capacity of 6KW, about twice that of a solar array on a typical family home. The current generation will have a capacity of up to 18KW. Future plans are for a much larger-scale solar power unit, which will be the size of a shipping container but will have a capacity of up to 150KW across an array measuring 5m wide and 200m long.