Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ascent Solar - Bye Aerospace

CIGS gets airborne: Bye Aerospace to incorporate Ascent Solar thin-film PV in unmanned aircraft

Ascent Solar's flexible CIGS thin-film photovoltaic modules will be designed into the development of a hybrid unmanned aerial vehicle (H-UAV) called the Silent Sentinel, developed by Bye Aerospace. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in April and have now agreed to proceed with the joint effort.


I'm no fan of Military hardware as a general rule. Sure, I've watched my share of Discovery Channel Military Documentaries, but when 70% or so of a Nation's R&D comes in the form of trying to implement more effective destruction, I'd say that there must be some misplaced priorities in the mix.

As for this project, though, it's a great demonstration of a potentially very valuable application for Solar Energy, and for Ascent Solar, in particular, it will be a great demonstration of their product, and of the breadth of the Solar niche that they inhabit. Since Norsk Hydro bought up a big chunk of ASTI some time ago, it seemed clear that Ascent really did have a product, and IMO they're thinking about their niche in exactly the right way.

I have a hard time believing that thin film is going to dominate the large scale Farm-style installation. With the cost of Silicon-based Solar to come down as it is expected to, until thin-film makes very significant strides in Conversion Efficiency, I don't think that it will compete well in this niche in the mid-term.

ASTI, however, isn't competing directly with the Silicon Juggernaut. They are in the "shapes" business, where Silicon is naturally "flat." With Norsk pushing their Building Integrated Application, and in this case an Aerospace Application, I'd say that ASTI's has a pretty good shot of carving themselves out a nice chunk of this vast future Industry.



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