“The building block is fabric, but there are a million possibilities to utilize solar,” says Pvilion founder and CEO Colin Touhey. Touhey gave an introductory presentation October 3 at Expo 2019 on cases for energy generation in fabric products.
One of his first projects using solar cells in fabric was architectural in nature when he designed a museum exhibit. That project led to a solar tent project for the U.S. Department of Defense. It turns out that integrating solar cells in fabric is ideal for remote sites that require a rapidly deployed, temporary power source.
In addition, shade requirements can be transformed into a power source. That power source, via solar, can also be applied to permanent structures in composite building materials, not just fabric.
Touhey also showed solar examples of fabric membrane facades that cover buildings in elegant and arresting applications, canopies and carports, shade sails, event tents, tarps and a pedestrian bridge.
“The large demand for mobile charging is very obvious,” notes Touhey. Consumers want turnkey products like solar totes and backpacks with USB ports that offer immediate charging for phones and other devices.
Developers can expect a charge of 10 to 20 watts per square foot of fabric integrated with solar cells, says Touhey. A 10-foot by 10-foot canopy could generate 1,000 watts.