Solar cells power Antarctic mission
Polar explorers have successfully used portable solar panels to charge equipment in the Antarctic.
Robert Swan – the first person to walk to both Poles – spent more than two weeks relying on solar power and other forms of renewable energy for the E-Base Goes Live project.
In poor weather and limited sunlight, his team used dye-sensitised thin film solar cells to power satellite, digital and video conferencing technology.
The solar cells, produced by Cardiff-based firm G24 Innovations (G24i), do not contain silicon, are lightweight, and do not need direct sunlight.
Robert Hertzberg, chairman of G24i, told edie: “It just needs ambient light – that’s the unique selling point.
“We have used it indoors with the light coming in through the window.”
He added: “I am over the moon about how it worked in Antarctica.”
Robert Swan said: “Levels of sunlight in Antarctica are extremely poor so it is a huge endorsement of G24i’s technology that we have had a constant supply of energy.
“It demonstrates how effective solar power can be.”
G24i bosses say their company is the first in the world to produce commercial grade dye-sensitised thin film solar cells, and they will use a roll-to-roll manufacturing process to produce them in large volumes.
Mr Hertzberg explained the company hopes to use them primarily as portable chargers for devices such as mobile phone chargers, and plans to build them into clothes and backpacks, rather than as fixed installations on roofs.
He said: “It can be used for powering buildings and big systems and ultimately, we could put it on roofs, but there are a lot of better uses for it.”
He added: “The traditional solar panels have been in the market for 50 years and they have pretty much run their course. This has such potential because its foundation is dye.”
Watch the solar cells in action in the Antarctic here.