Although existing traditional solar panels represent an option of clean energy solution, there are still barriers preventing their widespread use. These barriers are related to their physical characteristics, such as weight, rigidity, transparency, applicability and costs. These first and second-generation technologies have existed for more than 40 years and without much room for technological innovation.
There was, therefore, an opportunity to search for a disruptive solar energy solution that could be easily integrated into the context of cities, with characteristics that would facilitate its use at affordable costs, making possible its extensive use and leading to a true economic, social and environmental impact.
In 2010, CSEM Brasil initiated a research on organic printed electronics focusing on the development of next generation solar panels, the OPV.
Organic solar panels are a disruptive technology featuring low weight and low carbon footprint, flexibility, transparency, and high absorption of diffused light. The production uses the roll-to-roll printing technique, a continuous and highly scalable process that uses low temperatures and organic materials that are abundant in the nature – thus reducing environmental impact and providing a potential for extremely low cost.
The research carried out in the research center was supported by BNDES and, since its inception, despite the challenges inherent to the development of the technology and its production processes, the focus was to create a world-class industrial environment and scale-up production so that OPV could quickly reach the market.
In 2015, SUNEW, a CSEM Brasil spin-off company, was created to manufacture and trade organic solar panels. The company was formed from the convergence of efforts on the part of CSEM Brasil, FIR Capital and BNDES. Strategic partners from the energy sector, Tradener and CMU, were attracted.
SUNEW was launched as the largest and most modern OPV manufacturing line in the world, putting the country at the forefront of the development of this next generation technology.
Vision of the future
SUNEW seeks to integrate clean, sustainable and easily accessible technology everywhere: “energy everywhere”. OPV, due to its key characteristics, enables new markets and applications, and facilitates their use. The technology can be integrated with virtually everything, and logistics and installation are simple.
Today, the main trend in this market is the BIPV (Build Integrated Photovoltaics). The integration of OPV into glass façades brings innovation and new architectural standards to buildings, generating energy and reducing the need of air conditioning by blocking UV and infrared rays.
In addition to the integration of buildings, there are other huge markets that represent an opportunity for innovation: applications in urban furniture, light coverings, vehicles, mobility, gadgets, among others. So, the potential is immense.