A Polish company on Friday launched the world's first industrial production line of solar panels based on groundbreaking perovskite technology, which could revolutionise access to solar power for all.
Named after the Baltic goddess of the sun, Saule Technologies makes sheets of solar panels using a novel inkjet printing procedure invented by company founder Olga Malinkiewicz.
"We're scaling up, going from laboratory to production line," said Malinkiewicz, whose firm is based in the southern city of Wroclaw.
Photovoltaic panels coated with perovskite film are light, flexible and can easily be fixed to almost any surface to produce electricity even inside buildings.
Manufacturing costs are down thanks to the inkjet printing procedure for perovskites, which makes it possible to produce the panels under lower temperatures.
Malinkiewicz developed the processing method in 2013 while still a PhD student at the University of Valencia in Spain.
Her discovery earned her an article in the journal Nature as well as an award from MIT and top spot in a competition organised by the European Commission.
Now, "we're opening the world's first factory of perovskite solar cells," she told AFP.
She said "demand already exceeds production capacity", which is estimated initially at an annual 40,000 square metres (430,550 square feet).
The first commercial orders have come in from the Internet of Things and construction sectors.
The company has received funding from Poland's green energy leader Columbus Energy and multimillionaire Japanese investor Hideo Sawada.
The firm is now preparing to launch on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and is also mulling new factories in Europe or perhaps Japan.
"Of all the photovoltaic systems in Europe, only four percent are manufactured on the continent," said Malinkiewicz.
"We're on the same page as the European Union when it comes to the importance of building them in our region," she added.