Compiled ByGlenn Hasek Akzo Nobel NV and Shell Renewables, a business of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, have agreed to pilot a program to develop flexible solar cell panels at a low cost. Their mass-production process will include the application of a special solar cell coating (20 times thinner than a human hair) to rolls of flexible foil substrates. Solar cells traditionally have been too expensive for widespread application because of labor costs and the inclusion of expensive materials such as silicon, glass and metals. "We believe that solar power is going to be one of the fastest growing primary sources of energy," said Philippe de Renzy Martin, COO of Shell Solar, an operation of Shell Renewables. "The market for solar power is forecast to grow at 16% to 20% per year. Faster and cheaper production methods, coupled with flexible solar panels, could help to stimulate broader market introduction by allowing cost-effective integration into existing solar products, roofing and wall materials, as well as opening up new applications." Akzo Nobel and Royal Dutch/Shell Group are both headquartered in the Netherlands.