Japan firm develops 'sun-chasing' solar panels

Jun 03, 2011
Takashi Tomita, a Tokyo University professor and researcher for Japanese electronics giant Sharp, displays an innovative solar power panel using moving mirrors that follow the sun throughout the day, at a preview in Tokyo, on June 3.

A new Japanese solar power device can generate twice the electricity of current models thanks to moving mirrors that follow the sun throughout the day, according to its developers.

Smart Solar International, a Tokyo start-up that also has an office in California, will start producing the system in Japan in August, hoping it will be adopted in tsunami-hit areas along the northern Pacific coast.

Sample sales are set to begin in October, with overseas sales targeting especially Asia and the Middle East set for 2014 or earlier.

The device features a row of aluminum mirror bars that can slowly rotate as the sun moves across the sky and reflect its light back onto a central tube that is packed with high-performance, multi-layered .

Its inventors say the system requires far less silicon -- the most expensive component, which is imported mostly from China at the moment -- than the conventional larger flat panels.

The tube has a system to prevent overheating, which reduces the efficiency of power generation, and the excess heat can be used to heat water.

"You can get both electricity and heat from the same device," said Takashi Tomita, a former Sharp Corp. executive who heads the spin-off from the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology.

Demand for renewable energy is set to grow in Japan since the March 11 quake and tsunami crippled a on the northeast coast, causing the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

The centre-left government has announced a major energy policy review that would promote solar and other alternative energies.

"We must send our product to the (disaster) regions first," said Tomita, also a professor at the University of Tokyo's research centre.

"I want to ship this as early as possible to convenience stores and to other facilities where people congregate."

In coming years, Tomita hopes to sell the system abroad.

"Southeast Asia needs a source of energy as demand keeps growing," Tomita said, pointing out that countries including Vietnam and Thailand do not have much oil and gas, unlike Indonesia or Brunei.

The company also aims for sales in India and the Middle East.

Next week Smart Solar plans to exhibit a parabolic mirror version of the system at the Intersolar trade fair in Munich, Germany.

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User comments : 10

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5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2011
Thank God! finally someone invented sun-tracking technology!
5 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2011
lol I agree Skepticus it is about time!

I heard that there are people that are trying to invent a thing that involves baking wheat and yeast and you can slice it and put things between two slices of it, there are rumors that they will call this "sandwich"

and a German firm is developing a circular thing that stands on its side and can roll, they call this "ein Rad" (a wheel)

what an amazing world we live in
5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2011
Image how good it will be when someone invents 'sliced' bread! That'll be the next big thing for sure.
5 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2011
Thank God! finally someone invented sun-tracking technology!

A god has nothing to do with this invention. Thank the Japanese scientists instead. They deserve it.
4 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2011
This is a pretty nifty design though.
1.5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2011
Thank God! finally someone invented sun-tracking technology!

A god has nothing to do with this invention. Thank the Japanese scientists instead. They deserve it.

Calm down little guy its an expression used for years. Save your God bashing for another time . :) Thank God for freedom of speech.
5 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2011
It's fairly obvious that the real breakthrough here is it's a relatively flat tracking system. Wind loading will be much lower than for a parabolic tracking mirror and since each bar is flat, not curved, manufacturing costs will be lower and the structure will be stronger.

Now they need to add Cool Engery's Solarheart low-temperature Stirling engine/generator to use some of that excess heat.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2011
Thank God! finally someone invented sun-tracking technology!

A god has nothing to do with this invention. Thank the Japanese scientists instead. They deserve it.

Grow up!

Its an expression look it up. I agree tho its about time someone developed sun tracking quite why it took so long is beyond me as even to the uneducated this is an obviouse idea long used in nature to maximise the use of sunlight.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 05, 2011
Gee, thanks Ronnie Reagan!
3 / 5 (2) Jun 06, 2011
Speaking of Ronald Reagan...

One of the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had installed on the white house and which were removed by Ronald Reagan, is now on display in China's "Solar City".

It is a monument to American Stupidity.

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