H-Alpha Solar, a research by a pool of European scientists, is investigating how flexible solar panels can be sewn into textiles so electrical equipment can be recharged without being connected to a mains supply.
Bendy solar panels little thicker than photographic film could be bonded to fabrics and be on the market in three years.
Possible application could be a tent whose flysheet charges batteries all day so campers can have light all night, or a roll-out plastic sheet which powers cells to operate a DVD player.
The solar panels will also be cheap because they can be mass produced in rolls which can be cut as required and wrapped around clothes, fabrics, furniture or even rooftops. For example, an A4 sized panel sewn into the back of a jacket would cost less than £7 and charge a mobile phone during a summer stroll in the countryside.