Portable Solar Panels on a Spool

By : |March 10, 2016 0

A microgrid in a box” is how John Hingley describes his portable solar panels that can be unrolled like a carpet. Hingley’s company Renovagen has developed a large steel container with a long spool of solar panels which are attached together on a strong flexible fabric and can be pulled out into a 50-metre long system in a couple of minutes.

The solar device that uses copper indium gallium selenide solar cells (CIGS) bonded with a tensile fabric could prove critical in disaster management, military stations and mining work in areas without power. Renovagen is also expecting business from festivals and filming industry. “The market for off-grid energy is huge and growing – 24% of the world is off-grid but everyone needs energy these days,” said Hingley. “It has all of the components integrated into it that you need to run a 24 hours microgrid”, he further added.

For places which are frequently hit by typhoons or tsunamis, this microgrid can prove crucial in relief operations. When the cities are cut off from fuel supplies either due to natural calamity or a man-made one, the Renovagen system could be used to its best effect.

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Hingley sees Mining companies as another potential customer for his innovation. “You might only be at a particular site for a few weeks and then you might move a few miles [and] be on that next site for a few weeks. And all of that might be so remote that you would have to fly fuel in for the diesel generators that you would be running.”

The portable solar panel, which stores generated energy in batteries in the steel housing is not difficult to handle and is usually pulled out by a vehicle, which takes about two minutes, but can also be done manually, though with huge manpower. When ready for market, after it goes through regulatory checks, Hingley’s company Renovagen will make the solar power systems bespoke, according to what size the buyer wants.

Though the company hasn’t got full regulatory approvals as yet, it hopes formalities would not take more than four months. The early versions can cost between £50,000 and £110,000 although the prices would substantially go down once the business grows and the cost of solar and battery components comes down.

The company is targeting sales in markets where there is a need for off-the-grid power, such as the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Hingley also hopes business coming from mining hubs like Chile.

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