Sustainable Energy

Portable power with solar panels you can roll up

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Renovagen Ltd

U.K company Renovagen is looking to harness the power of the sun - wherever it shines - with "rollable" solar arrays that can be rapidly deployed in a variety of locations.

The sun is an abundant source of clean energy, and our appetite for it seems to be growing: according to a recent report from GTM Research, the solar market in the U.S. is set to grow by 119 percent in 2016.

"We're the first company that's actually made an entire solar farm rollable," John Hingley, managing director of Renovagen, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

"We've made the entire solar array, so the support structure and all of the power cabling, embedded into a single solar mat," Hingley went on to add.

This design enables rapid deployment of the array, Hingley said.

"We can tow it out in two minutes… because it's all pre-wired, everything is permanently wired in, there's no electrical connections [that] need to be made once you get on site, so you won't need a solar engineer to set it up."

An 18 kilowatt system can be deployed from a trailer unit in around two minutes, while a larger system up to 300 kilowatts in size can be set up in under an hour from a shipping container.

Currently, the company is selling demonstration systems. "Right now we have no economies of scale, so the cost is quite high, anywhere between £50,000 and £110,000 ($71,805 and $143,610) per system," Hingley said.

"But as we get into serious manufacturing the cost will come down significantly, so we might expect that to come to 35-75,000 pounds, perhaps even by the end of this year." He added that there was the potential for further cost reduction in the future.

In terms of where the technology can be used, there are a range of options, with Hingley listing sectors such as agriculture, festivals, disaster relief, humanitarian response and the military.

"The end goal for me is the day that I see our product save a life. It will be all worthwhile… regardless of what else happens," he said.

As the sun becomes an increasingly popular source of clean energy, technology to harness it is literally reaching new heights.

Last week the pilot and co-founder of Solar Impulse 2, André Borschberg, told CNBC that the solar-powered aircraft was set to return to the skies in mid-April to complete a round-the-world trip.