Tokyo-based start-up Smart Solar International has developed a new solar panel comprised of aluminum mirror bars that turn to face the sun for optimal efficiency throughout the day. The system requires far less expensive silicon than traditional photovoltaic cell panels, and it has a system for preventing overheating that channels any extra warmth for heating 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.
Tomita plans to target the Japanese market first, hoping to stock convenience stores and any other places people congregate to get the new solar panels into the market quickly as the Japanese government conducts a major review on energy policy. Other target markets include China, India, and the Middle East: “Southeast Asia needs a source of energy as demand keeps growing,” Tomita said.