Ascent Solar’s announcement earlier this week about partnering with Bye Aerospace is just the tip of the wing when it comes to opportunities for the Colorado solar thin-film company. “That’s a pretty interesting opportunity for us,” said Brad Kemp, Ascent’s director of marketing and sales in an exclusive interview with CleanEnergyAuthority.com.
He said the company knew it had a product that would be easily integrated into others because of its lightweight and flexible design. When the company started looking for new applications other than simple rooftop installations, it found Bye Aerospace. “And unmanned aircraft seemed like a good fit,” Kemp said. “We provided them with very, very light solar they could integrate into the aircraft.”
He said Ascent has been working with Bye Aerospace on the Silent Guardian project for some time, but that the two companies just formalized the partnership. Ascent has been looking beyond unmanned aircraft for other applications as well and is pursuing several of those out-of-the-box ideas.
Kemp said the company is looking at opportunities to get its products into space and it has also been doing a lot of work in defense, collaborating with the military on solar integration projects. Ascent is also working with several automotive manufacturers, which could be an exciting new venture.
“Can you imagine having a solar panel integrated into the roof of your car?” Kemp asked. He said Ascent is looking at ways to incorporate its solar material into sunroofs and also into the automotive materials themselves.
“You can’t use glass on a car,” Kemp said. “Cars are all about design. You wouldn’t want to stick some big solar panel on your roof.” He said it has to be integrated and that auto manufacturers are interested and are looking at what they can do to include solar.
Ascent is also looking into developing consumer products. Because the company’s materials are lightweight and flexible, Kemp said Ascent’s products are well-suited for use in emerging economies, where people can put panels out during the day to charge their battery generators and then bring the panel in at night for safekeeping. “It’s an exciting time,” he said.