Heliatek: truly green and organic solar films


Climate change is happening right now with proven negative impact on our environment, economies and societies. The key to slow down the global warming process is the significant reduction of greenhouse gases at all stages of industrial processes. Therefore, a massive turnaround of energy production towards low carbon technologies is essential. Heliatek (Dresden, Germany) brings an innovative organic solar film solution (HeliaSol) as a powerful means for the decarbonisation of the energy sector. HeliaSol is an ultra-thin, lightweight, flexible all-in-one solution that can add value to virtually any building surface — from glass, metal and concrete to polymer membranes — turning it into clean electricity generators, no matter if they are flat, curved or even semi-permanent.

To evaluate Heliatek's first product, HeliaSol, in terms of environmental performance, TÜV Rheinland (Germany) undertook a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study throughout the entire life cycle („cradle to grave“) according to DIN EN ISO 14040:2009 and DIN EN ISO 14044:2018. TÜV Rheinland has certified the environmental impact of the pre-commercial product HeliaSol to be below 16 kg CO2e/m² by means of this LCA. All environmental impacts were evaluated from acquisition of raw materials over the production and use up to end-of-life treatment including all transportation/delivery routes. To compare the carbon footprint with other solar technologies, all results need to be converted to g CO2e/kWh to reflect the electricity generation over lifetime depending on a specific location. For this reason, the following geographical mapping shows the low carbon footprint of HeliaSol expressed as CO2 equivalent per kWh across the globe.

The map indicates that Heliatek’s organic solar films have a carbon footprint ranging from 3 g CO2e/kWh in locations with high solar irradiation up to 15 g CO2e/kWh at some very few exceptional locations. By displacing coal and gas-fired power plants from the electricity grid, each kilowatt-hour produced by HeliaSol can save 667 up to 678 g CO2e. The higher the CO2e savings potential, the greater the contribution to the decarbonization of the energy sector. Consequently, the high CO2e saving potential and the ultra-low CO2e impact of 14.52 kg CO2e/m² enable to payback the greenhouse gas emissions of HeliaSol within a short period of 2-6 months around the world. This is called carbon payback time (CPT).

“With the continuing increase of our solar cell efficiency we will bring the carbon footprint of our product even further down to become the energy source with the lowest carbon footprint in the world including hydroelectric, wind and solar power. This is a truly green product,” says Jan Birnstock, CTO of Heliatek.

Note: The conversion from kg CO2e/m² to g CO2e/kWh was calculated by Heliatek

Caption: Geographical mapping of the low carbon footprint HeliaSol aperture efficiency 10%, lifetime 20 years, degradation 1% [Conversion using Global Solar Atlas] (source: Heliatek)

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