Small is Beautiful

The future is almost here.

In a matter of a few years we will be able to have solar cells on our existing and new roofs...why am I so sure about that?  Because thin, film solar cells that are roll printed like newspaper are now being manufactured ...see the one above by Flisom.

The technology is called CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-(di)selenide) thin film cells and new solar panels made from it are much lighter than other photovoltaic panels before them. It now is possible to have roofs with solar panels built in and atop them.

The Nanosolar company has a Nanosolar Utility Panel™ that can be installed easily on any kind of large flat roof using a “plug & play” method called the SunLink solution. It is an innovative mounting system that uses recycled-rubber mounting blocks and quick-connect Nanosolar Edge Connector™.

Not to be left behind, Dow Chemical will be manufacturing its 'Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingle' using CIGS thin film cells in Michigan in late 2010. Dow was awarded a $20 million dollar Solar America Initiative Pathways Program grant by the U.S. DOE for its Solar Shingles. They are projected to be widely available in 2011.

Andrew Liveris, Dow CEO, said it is well positioned to bring affordable, renewable energy solutions to the market, putting the power of solar electricity generation directly and conveniently in the hands of homeowners.

Jane Palmieri, general manager of Dow Solar Solutions said  "the commercialization of groundbreaking technologies like Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingle will allow consumers to have quicker access to energy saving technologies, which is a win for everyone."

I am thrilled at this development!  In my mind, this is the beginning of the end of the centralized utilities which began in the early 1900s. They have served their purpose but now they are dinosaurs of another age...

solar cells on every roof, market gardens in every city, laptop and internet access for everyone ...

My pipe dream is that of a 'small is beautiful' devotee.

I once attemded a talk by the great E.F. Schumacher (1911-1977). He explained that we must get back to a more manageable way of doing things...thin film solar cells will help us to do that:

"I have no doubt that it is possible to give a new direction to technological development, a direction that shall lead it back to the real needs of man, and that also means: to the actual size of man. Man is small, and, therefore, small is beautiful.”   
E. F. Schumacher


  1. Boy, does that sound exciting! It really is something that needs to happen and be utilized soon. With the knowledge & technology out there, it's a shame to not take advantage of it!

  2. I agree with Jan this sure is exciting and much needed!

    Technological advances like these will make this a much better world to live in!

  3. Looks awesome, wounder how effective it would be in a dull place like Ireland, here sunshine is as frequent as a solar eclipse.
    Hey thanks for the link to my blog by the way, I just spotted it there beside me, Just made my dull Irish day a bit brighter, Thank you:)

  4. The excitement about small solar cells will only be justified when the cost of the cells and their installation will be low enough to result in significant monetary savings to the end consumer. Even if the initial individual investment is high, if it saves money long term so that its cost might be amortized, that will be a good thing.
    I am as eager as you are to see this product hit the market. If it proves to be costly, let us hope that local or state governments will offer tax incentives to make it's adaptation attractive.

  5. Thanks all! Allan - they say it is significantly cheaper per kilowatt because the manufacturing process is that much easier....who knows? hope springs eternal...

  6. Hello,

    I am soo glad I found your blog through Blotanical!!

    Im a garden designer in STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN looking for garden bloggers to be inspired from, and you seem to have a inspiring blog:-)

    It's a pity that Google translates my blog so poorly, I can see that most of my carefully chosen words will be lost in translation;-) Luckily photos are universal.

    (I tell you this in advance, should you visit:-)

    Have a nice day, cheers from Hillevissan

  7. I love the solar on my home... and it's amazing the new ones they are creating. great post

  8. Hillevissan! love your blog - it is now one of my links - the chirping birds are great.....

    dirty girl gardening - now that I have lost power for four days running I really wish I had solar....


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