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Rigid or flexible, but always lightweight! Liten has been developing lightweight and ultra-lightweight photovoltaic modules to meet its partners' needs since 2014. Standard photovoltaic modules weigh in at around 12 kg/sq. m. Liten can develop modules weighing up to ten times less depending on the target application. The institute first developed rigid lightweight modules for the Solight and Operasol projects. These modules, weighing in at less than 6 kg/sq. m and 4 kg/sq. m, were designed for installation on commercial building rooftops and on military tents, respectively. Liten later responded to a request for modules for airborne vehicles like the 100% solar drone manufactured by Sunbirds and, recently, Thales Alenia Space's Stratobus. For this latest project, Liten developed a module weighing less than 800 g/sq. m with power in excess of 190 Wp/sq. m (STC).
The researchers reduced the modules' weight by eliminating the front-side glass and aluminum frame found on standard modules. They replaced them with lighter and, in some cases, flexible materials (thin polymer films, thin glass, or composites). They also made the encapsulating material and cells thinner. Each module was developed to meet the target application's specifications in terms of weight and robustness and was designed to be integrated into the object, taking into account size, thickness, and even mounting hardware, proving that anything—or almost anything—is possible!
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.