Re: Dumb question about Solbian panels?
The old standard flexible panels usually consisted of amorphous silicon (although some were other thin film types) that, on a good day, has a conversion efficiency around 10%. The newer panels (Solbian, Aurinco, a few others) are using solid monocrystalline silicon cells with > 20% efficiency.
With the amorphous silicon the material itself is relatively flexible, you can roll them up at will. With these newer panels the cells themselves are not flexible, they are mounted on a flexible substrate, so they are more like a segmented panel than a truly flexible one. If they will be stepped on, for instance, they need full support underneath, otherwise the discrete cells can be cracked. They do not roll quite as small. They also produce a lot more power. Those are the trade-offs.