Japan’s Sharp Corporation (TYO: 6753) has been wading through some rough times lately. Now, they’ve taken the world by surprise by announcing a radical breakthrough in solar panel development.
Solar panels aren’t always ideal. Though they offer a clean power option and can be efficient, they’re expensive to create, buy, and install, and they don’t end up looking very elegant. All of which explain why there hasn’t been phenomenal market penetration yet.
Sharp’s product uses microcrystalline silicon cells and the same glass fibres currently used in general construction to build the panels. Sharp claims it’s using less than 1 percent of the quantity of silicon cells generally used. Despite that, each panel produces up to 95 W, while preventing heat from passing through the glass.
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, Sharp wants to position these panels as replacements for existing regular glass windows and paneling.
The panels are semi-transparent, and can function perfectly well as windows or balcony railings. This could mean skyscrapers in metropolitan cities would do double duty as giant power generators. In fact, any structure with plenty of glass in it could transform into a highly energy-efficient building.
The panels have a capacity of 6.8 percent. They are sized 4.5 feet by 3.2 feet and are just 0.37 inches thick. They will be launched in Japan on October 1.
*Image courtesy of Green Packs