Professor Vivian Alberts
Solar panels invented by South African scientist, Vivian Alberts of the University of Johannesburg consist of a thin layer approximately five microns thick (a human hair is 20 microns thick) of a unique metal alloy that converts light into energy at a fraction of the cost. The photo-responsive alloy can operate on virtually all flexible surfaces.
The project is completely innovative as a new technology that was developed and brought to an industrial marketable standard by Professor Vivian Alberts and his team over a twelve year research period at the University of Johannesburg. The increasing demand for crystalline solar modules cannot be met due to lack of raw silicon on the global markets. The use of this non-silicon based thin film technology will allow significant growth faster than the market.
Households would benefit from the technology by applying it directly to their homes, because it is affordable and can cover most any surface.
After production in Germany, the vision of the team is to spread the benefits across the world through the sublicensing of their technology. If this does not help mainstream solar power by itself, the ensuing competition will.
German plants will provide 1,000 panels a day and additional supplies can be met. The appealing homogenous appearance of the thin film solar modules enables the panels to expand into market segments where others cannot, such as productive design elements with additional energy features (e.g. building integration). Due to the low input cost of this technology, it will be accessible to the poor. As poor people make up most of the world's population, the use of and awareness of solar energy will grow exponentially, resulting in the mainstreaming of the technology and practice.
Sustainability is guaranteed. In contrast to amorphous solar technologies, solar modules from this project do not show any tendencies of degradation. Thus, the so-called "Staebler-Wronsky-Effect" can be avoided, which occuring in conventional production operations, is responsible for persistent and long term losses of output.
Creating better options will always advance a field, and due to the low temperature coefficient and the good performances in poor light conditions, these panels can achieve higher outputs than silicon-based solar modules and open new doors for solar applications.