Konarka Technologies and ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe Enter Joint Development Agreement

September 08, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

Konarka Technologies, Inc. announced that it is working with the Color/Construction Unit of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe, a supplier of steel construction elements in Germany, to develop steel roof and other construction elements for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). The joint solar solution will be based on Konarka’s Power Plastic® which is said to easily replace conventional building materials in roofs, skylights and facades.

"Konarka’s thin, light and flexible photovoltaic technology will be applied to our substrate materials in a continuous process, both cost-efficiently and eco-friendly, ideally integrating into our production process," commented Dr. Lars Pfeiffer, head of quality and development at the Color/Construction unit. "Unlike conventional silicon-based photovoltaic systems, the joint solar solution will not need to be mounted on a raised structure but will integrate smoothly into the building envelope. We look forward to providing the valuable, added benefits of solar to our customers at a low cost."

During ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe’s production process, the steel strip is coil coated with films, paint or plastic coatings. These continuous coating lines will be used to apply Konarka’s organic photovoltaic surface. Available in various colors, color combinations and sizes, the construction elements with Konarka’s Power Plastic will give planners and architects a great deal of design latitude.

Since organic solar cells make optimum use of the sun’s energy even with unfavorable incidence angles or in weak or diffused light, they are well suited for use on facades where photovoltaic systems have rarely been used. ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe plans to harness the potential for steel facade components.

"We have found a competent industrial partner in ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe," commented Alex Valenzuela, Konarka’s Vice President for Business Development in Europe. "They, too, use an automated roll-to-roll process in the production of their high-quality steel construction elements. Our capabilities are an ideal match."

Konarka’s Power Plastic can be applied to various materials. In addition to steel, ideal substrates include glass and other construction materials as well as films and textiles.