Danish tech news magazine Ingeniøren reports today that 18 years of hard work has resulted in the startup infinityPV finally commercializing products with printed solar photovoltaic foil. I had heard about these guys when they did research in this field of technology at the Technical University of Denmark DTU. In 2014, infinityPV was founded and now they mean business.
The patent originally granted to DTU is now owned by the new company, and anyone at DTU who had contributed their work to this technology were invited to buy a share of the company, resulting in 32 current owners.
A quick look at the company’s website surprised me. They actually sell a select range of products already. However, CEO Frederik C. Krebs doesn’t want to rush things. He has seen good ideas get smothered by greedy investors much too soon. Instead, they want to build the business foundation for a solid technology, and scale up from there.
On the infinityPV website, the world-renowned scientist professor and now CEO Frederik C. Krebs — in his ambitious goal of providing clean energy for the entire world — explains:
“Printed solar cells hold the promises of solving our energy needs — we have the technology, all needed materials are abundant, and we spend extremely limited energy producing them.
“I am really happy and look forward to dedicating all my time to the technology that I have worked on for 18 years. I want to make infinityPV realize the full potential of organic photovoltaics and printed solar cells and I want to enable anybody to manufacture, implement, and disseminate this technology in the right way.
Academia has lifted this technology, once we struggled for 1% efficiency and now laboratory records easily exceed 10%. However, there are problems ill-suited for University work. In many ways the discovery phase is over for the technology. We have high efficiency and good lifetimes, but we will continuously encounter challenges as we scale the technology. I believe these new challenges are best met in the private sector, where scientific ambition does not interfere with our focus.
“Organic solar cells are often viewed and compared to crystalline silicon which is a tremendously successful technology. Currently we cannot compete with the prices of installed capacity for silicon, but we must not forget that the true potential lies in the thin outline, flexibility, freeform design, and scalability. At infinityPV our reach is wide from fundamental materials, through equipment and machinery to real life products.
“I believe this wide scope is necessary until the technology has become more mainstream and more strong actors have entered the industry.
“I want to show that it is possible, because I know it is, and my dream is for others to join forces and together make a strong industry. If I where to guess were infinityPV is in 5 years, I would perhaps rather say where I think printed solar is. It will be huge.”
The polymer solar cells are non-toxic and at the end of their useful life they can be burned without creating contaminating byproducts. Small contents of silver can be recycled almost entirely.
One of the cool things infinityPV has available for order right now is the HeLi-on solar charger. Though small in size, it demonstrates quite well the potential of this technology:
Solar energy harvesting technologies are indeed rushing forward in many forms, and will have a significant impact on affordability of energy for all of us. Recently I happened to initiate a lively discussion about hydrogen vs battery storage, and I was relieved to learn that it is not at all a matter of one or the other, but a matter of all-in clean technology action to prevent rampant climate change. Printed solar cells are obviously a key contributor. And later on even more exotic technologies like nanopeapods with near-infrared active plasmonic hot-electron injection for water splitting may contribute. Yes! Thats a thing!