Name: Ivano Boldo
Title: Senior Application Engineer
Country: Switzerland

Clean energy from solar panels? Nothing new under the sun. But making them flexible so they fit any structure opens many new installation possibilities.

“I am very proud to be involved in the development of something new and innovative – from a new idea to the manufacturing of a functional prototype. It is very inspiring to create new technology and see our product being tested by being exposed to severe environmental influences.” says Ivano Boldo of ERIKS/Maagtechnic in Switzerland.

CHALLENGE

Solar panels provide 100% clean energy, but they do require space. Solar systems on the market are heavy and feature expensive hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders. There are many places where they simply will not fit. So a Swiss university decided to design a lighter, simpler, cheaper, space saving solar panel. More flexible, more efficient. Without any bulky mechanical elements.

SOLUTION

ERIKS/Maagtechnic was invited to cooperate. We came up with an ingenious elastomeric part  that proved to be a crucial element of the new flexible solar panel.

It started with the design and finding the right material. We then used ‘mold tool manufacturing’ to create the first prototype parts, which had to withstand intensive tests before we could install the first solar panels on the university building facades. We used a range of solar tracking and building-integrated photovoltaic applications and technologies to align the panels to the best angles to catch the sunlight.

Our new elastomeric actuator is flexible, lightweight and resilient to external shocks and harsh outdoor conditions. It’s also cheap and easy to produce.

RESULT

The newly installed solar panel system at the university offers above-average electricity production and adjustable daylight control for the interior. The system is equipped with a self-learning robotic unit to optimize orientation of the panels. The prototypes are generating the necessary test data. So now we’re looking forward to the first production series for bigger facade installations.