Ascent Solar Ships First Ultralight PV Modules for High-Altitude Airships

Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. of Thornton, Colorado USA, a maker of lightweight and flexible copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solutions, reported the development and shipment of new laminated aerospace product, using its Ultralight technology. Ascent solar created the Ultralight PV module for use in aerospace applications, such as high-altitude airships.

Also, the company says that it has signed a $300 contract to supply the Ultralight PV modules to a prominent European customer. The shipment to the European customer was delivered ahead of schedule before the close of the first quarter of 2018. This one sale equates to about 50% of the company’s 2017 full-year revenue.

Ultralight PV Modules Have Nominal Density of 330 grams/square meter

The Ultralight PV module utilizes next-generation PV that the company developed originally for space customers. The module features a significantly thinner substrate than Ascent’s standard CIGS PV module. Also the product utilizes an asymmetric laminate packaging to reduce thickness and weight considerably compared to its predecessor, the Superlight product. These changes translate to a vastly-reduced areal density to nominally just 330 grams per square meter, or about 50% less than ‘thin’ crystalline PV airship options.

Its nominal specific-power under terrestrial (AM1.5) lighting is 280 watts per kilogram and is predicted to surpass 330 watts per kilogram in near-space conditions (AM0). Additionally, the company designed the new PV modules for easy integration to decrease assembly time and enhance overall array reliability.

Dr. Joseph Armstrong, Chief Technology Officer and founding member of Ascent Solar said, “The customer has ordered a custom version of one of our existing 25-watt Superlight airship PV blankets with dimensions and electrical connections specific to their vehicle. By combining our space PV technology with our new asymmetric laminate packaging, we were able to achieve the breakthrough in terms of substantially higher power-to-weight ratio with Ultralight.”