A group of researchers led by Marit Kauk-Kuusik, a professor at Tallinn University of Technology, is developing flexible solar panels that can be integrated into clothing.
“Our research group is working on photovoltaic materials. These materials are environmentally friendly and are made up of elements that are widespread in the earth’s crust and relatively cheap,” the researcher said.
“Recently, we have been studying materials called kesterites, and the efficiency of devices based on these materials has already reached 10 per cent, which is one of the current world records,” she added.
Of the solar panels now on the market, silicon panels, which have an efficiency of about 20 per cent, make up 95 per cent. However, silicon production is expensive and silicon panels are robust.
“When we go out and wear sensors that measure our health parametres, and we listen to music through headphones, it all needs energy,” Kauk-Kuusik said.
A way out would be to cover our clothes, even partially, with flexible lightweight solar panels. This would allow all of us to consume more solar energy at any time, in any place and much cheaper, she added.