About six months after the devastating earthquake that struck Eastern Japan and caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his plans to diversify his country’s sources of energy and reduce its dependence on nuclear power.
Since that announcement, Japan has steadily increased power generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar energy. Last year, the country generated 12 gigawatts from renewable sources, compared to 7.3 gigawatts in 2013.
While traditional photovoltaic (PV) panels, seen mostly in large solar farms and on rooftops, remain the standard PV solution, technological advances in the field have already yielded lighter, stronger, more flexible and affordable products, among them the thin-film solar modules made from copper, indium, gallium and selenium, widely known as CIGS technology.
Ascent Solar Technologies Inc., based in Thornton, Colorado, is the “One and Only” CIGS producer globally which manufactures on a flexible plastic substrate using its award-winning, patented “monolithic integration” technology.
Given the extremely lightweight and flexible nature of the plastic substrate, Ascent has enabled a previously unimaginable potential for wide varieties of application currently not available to traditional glass-backed solar. Besides being lightweight and flexible, the most important aspect is the extreme durability of the panels as compared to glass-backed panels.
Ascent’s panels are literally “bullet-proof” as they continue to produce power even when punctured. In fact, Ascent’s panels have passed the U.S. military MIL-STD 810G testing and selected modules have also obtained the IEC61646 Certification from the International Electrotechnical Commission.
Recently, Ascent set up a consumer products division, EnerPlex, to focus on providing every individual with complete mobile, outdoor and emergency power solutions.
EnerPlex products range from portable solar chargers, solar-integrated backpacks and energy storage devices such as power banks and generators that were primarily designed for off-grid situations, especially in disaster areas where the sun could be the only source of power.
“Ascent’s PV panels can operate in low-light, overcast or even indirect sunlight conditions, which exemplifies the unique advantages of CIGS technology.
To put it simply, our panels can operate in a wide variety of conditions from sunrise to sunset. Ascent and EnerPlex technology is not just about rated-power, it’s about providing much-needed power when others cannot,” said CEO Victor Lee.
“With Ascent’s unique manufacturing process, we can also customize our panels to the specific needs of end-users in terms of voltage and current requirements as well as the form factor. Hence, you can say that we are the ultimate tailor shop in manufacturing bespoke solar products,” Lee added.