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Global Solar rolls out stick-on solar panels

Flexible thin-film solar modules are designed to be glued to flat commercial rooftops or integrated directly into roofing membrane materials.

Glue may be the magic ingredient to making solar power cheaper.

Solar company Global Solar on Tuesday introduced a line of flexible solar modules that are designed for flat commercial rooftop buildings.

Rather than install racking systems to hold heavy glass-covered solar panels, the company's PowerFlex BIPV modules can be adhered onto a roof or built right into roofing materials. The modules are quicker to installer, lighter, and don't require any penetrations into the roof, according to the company.

Global Solar's solar modules use thin-film solar cells and can be attached to flat roofs without racking.
Global Solar's solar modules use thin-film solar cells and can be attached to flat roofs without racking. Global Solar

The installed cost of Global Solar modules is about the same as traditional polycrystalline silicon panels with racks, said Jean-Noel Poirier, the vice president of marketing and business development. But because there is no need for spacing between racks, the flexible thin-film modules can cover more roof space and generate more power, he said.

The company plans to sell its solar modules--long strips of solar panels almost 19 feet long and 1.5 feet wide--through roof membrane manufacturers. The solar cells are made from a combination of copper, indium, selenium, and gallium (CIGS) and perform comparatively well in areas that don't have direct sun, Poirier said.

The company plans to get certification for the modules, which are being evaluated by roofing membrane companies now, by the end of the year and hopes to start production early next year.

Global Solar, one of many solar companies developing CIGS solar cells and modules, now has 75 megawatts worth of production capacity at two plants in Tucson, Ariz., and Berlin. Until now, the company has supplied solar cells to panel manufacturers, but it's now manufacturing its own modules for building-integrated photovoltaics, said CEO Jeff Britt.