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Create Electricity Where it Simply Isn’t Available

Electric vehicles are a good example of where access to electricity can be limited. The batteries of today’s electric vehicles must be maintained at a specific temperature in order to maximize storage capacity and their overall lifetime.  What happens when an electric vehicle is left parked in the hot daytime sun?  The cooling system for the battery system will be drawing energy from the same battery it’s trying to cool!  In some cases, this could result in a catastrophic discharging of the vehicle’s battery, destroying the battery.  Why not integrate some flexible solar film into the roof of the electric vehicle and solve this problem?  A car rooftop can hold one to two square meters of solar material.  Using Alta’s gallium-arsenide technology, flexible sheets of solar film can be molded directly into the car’s glass roofing material.  That provides over 500 watts of generation capability on the top of every car roof!

Creating Power Anywhere

The same technology can be integrated into the wings of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) increasing flight times dramatically.  How about charging that cell phone and iPad we carry everywhere with us?  Flexible sheets that can be right-sized to fit our portable devices could provide tens of watts of power everywhere we go.  And no plug is required!  In the developing world, the need for energy is extreme.  In fact, many researchers believe that economic and social prosperity starts by ensuring a ready and adequate supply of energy.  The sun shines all day long – why not build flexible charging mats that can provide kilowatts of energy in an area the size that is no bigger than a small patio?  A ten foot by ten foot mat could be easily rolled up and stored, but provide over two kilowatts of energy generation capability when unfolded and exposed to the sun!  Even a solar matt the size of a sheet from a queen sized bed would provide a kilowatt of generation capability.  In much of the developing world, the primary source of energy generation is from either centralized coal power plants or from decentralized diesel generators.  Why not deploy hybrid diesel systems that use the sun to generate power during the day and only consume diesel at night?  The problem of intermittency goes away completely, while the consumption of costly diesel fuel would plummet.

The solar technology we are developing at Alta, is designed to address the solar energy problem by focusing on providing energy where it does not exist today.  Rather than provide a solution that can only be used in one way, we aim to enable a wide range of energy generation solutions that are “right sized” for the problem being solved.  The need might be for mobile energy to power cars, UAVs or portable devices.  Alternatively, the need could be to offset the on-site energy consumption of a building, or to provide cost effective off-grid generation.  In every case, the solution starts with high energy density solar cells, crafted into sheets that can be made into the size and shape needed to solve the problem.

That’s what we call “solar in any form”.