Solar energy is one of the safest renewable sources. There are, however, some factors that prevent it from becoming more widespread, for example, the silicon panels used to capture heat and turn it into electricity are not cheap or easy to dispose of. That's why a new technology, Organic PhotoVoltaics (OPV) has been developed in recent years. This is based on polymers and other organic photoactive components that can be made into very thin, flexible, light slivers of plastic and installed practically anywhere.
Photoactive components are printed on transparent panels using the rotogravure method, the same method used for magazines and newspapers. The printed sequence is about as wide as a micron and can be transported in rolls, like paper. Its most obvious advantages are in its practical uses. There are no limits to the size of the film, as the printing process can be easily adapted to fit the required measurements. Also, the flexibility, lightweight and robustness of the material allow it to be used on any surface, from building walls to inflatable balls. We haven't just plucked that last example out of thin air. Many inflatable ball makers are developing OPV technology for insulation or emergency protection, for areas which are particularly difficult to reach with traditional electricity infrastructure. By applying the film to inflatable structures, it would be possible to air-drop small photovoltaic installations into areas that are not connected to the electricity grid, following incidents or disasters for example. This would make it possible to power lighting, diagnostic systems and emergency radios or telephones.