Solyndra’s Totally Tubular Solar Cells


Solyndra just released new details of their proprietary solar technology printed with a copper, indium, gallium, and selenium (CIGS) mixture on glass tubes.  Solyndra also announced over $1.2 billion in orders and a successful installation using the cylindrical solar tubes on the roof of their corporate headquarters.  With the glass tube design and easy installation, the company expects to provide commercial customers with higher electricity output per rooftop and significantly reduced installation costs.

Unlike other thin-film CIGS solar technology, Solyndra panels capture sunlight across a 360-degree surface through direct, diffuse, and reflected light.  As a result, the company claims their cylindrical panels capture more sunlight than traditional flat-surfaced panels.


At least for the time being, Solyndra is focusing on the commercial market — a smart strategy especially with approximately 30 billion square feet of rooftop space ripe for photovoltaic systems.

Speaking of the costs advantage of Solyndra’s PV system, Manfred Bachler, CTO of Phoenix Solar AG and customer of Solyndra, said: “By eliminating the need for roof-penetrating mounts and wind ballasts, PV arrays with Solyndra panels can be installed with one-third the labor, in one-third of the time, at one-half the cost.”  That’s quite the statement, if the numbers actually crunch out to verify it.

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[+] Solar Goes from Gardens to Gigabucks [Wired]
[+] Better Solar for Big Buildings [MIT Technology Review]

Top image credit: Wired Science; other images: Solyndra.

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  • Sea Wolf

    I can understand why, from a business perspective, Solyndra would concentrate on the commercial market. And I can see it’s a benefit for these tubes to sit atop a white or other highly reflective roof of the sort sometimes found on flat-roofed commercial buildings. But is there any reason — technical? cost? — these panels would not be suitable for residential use? They would seem a perfect fit for a flat or gently sloped roof typical of a modern house, especially in a place with lots of diffuse light, like Seattle, where cylindrical vaccuum tube solar hot water systems have already proved themselves.

  • Brad

    How sturdy are these? How would they hold up in a hail storm for example?

  • johan

    all else being equal,

    1/3rd the labor in all of the time should be 1/3rd the cost
    all of the labor, in 1/3rd the time, would be 1/3rd the cost.
    1/3rd the labor, in 1/3rd the time, should be 1/9th the cost.

    Something makes the process 4 times more expensive per labor hour. I wonder what.

    • Preston

      Johan -are you sure about those calculations? It’s kind of hard to interpret, but it seems that the 1/3 the time and 1/3 the labor refers to labor. The 1/2 the cost statement then might refer to all costs: labor, mounting equipment, and pv system. Not sure though.

      Here’s the source of the quote:
      Solyndra Reshapes Solar Panels

  • Chad Ludeman

    Very cool concept. I could see these being integrated as external window overhangs on south facing window or as a lattice structure over a patio or rooftop deck.

  • Anonymous

    ” I could see these being integrated as external window overhangs on south facing window or as a lattice structure over a patio or rooftop deck.”——This applicaton is also cool! save cost ,please contact with chinese market. I will do.

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