Design site Core77 recently noticed a new solar product called Tensile Solar from Brooklyn-based SMIT, the same group behind GROW or Solar Ivy.  Tensile Solar is a lightweight, membrane fabric embedded with flexible solar cells that could be used to provide shade, protection from the rain, and power from the sun.

Tensile Solar is customizable and modular — if a cell goes bad, that cell could be replaced without affecting the entire system.  And the system would work with all manner of solar technologies, whether solar PV, amorphous silicon, or CIGS, according to Core77.

The trick may be in figuring out how to transfer energy from the fabric to the person that would use that energy.  A car port could power a plug-in Leaf.  A beach umbrella could charge a Nook or iPhone.  A canopy could power music for a backyard barbecue.

Tensile Solar reminds me of a free span solar structure by Tensol Power, but this design appears to be less cumbersome, or not so heavy duty.  Tensile Solar could be applied to a lot of things: umbrellas, tents, awnings, car ports, canopies, pavilions, etc.

Credits: Tensile Solar.