Did you get a chance to catch the recent annular solar eclipse?
To make sure no one missed the golden opportunity, Panasonic had stated it would live-stream the solar eclipse from the top of Mt. Fuji, using its superb energy solutions-electricity generated from solar cells stored in lithium-ion batteries. On the day of the eclipse though, bad weather forced us to cancel the live-stream from the top of Mt. Fuji. Nonetheless we were able to demonstrate the remarkable power of solar cells, even during a solar eclipse (!), to stream the video of the eclipse in real time from Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture.
To provide some background behind the technology used for Panasonic's live broadcast of the eclipse, let's explore how these cutting-edge solar cells originally came to be.
Solar power generation is the process of converting the energy from sunlight into electricity using solar cells. The basic principles of this process were first put forward in the 1830s and successfully demonstrated in the 1880s, when 1% of the energy from sunlight was converted for the first time into electricity.
In the 1950s, crystalline silicon solar cells - the type of solar cells in widespread use today - were invented. These solar cells were initially employed in situations for which a long-term electric power source was required but could not be provided using conventional electric cables, such as for powering communications equipment in tropical regions and satellites in space. Eventually, however, they came into widespread use for a variety of applications, including calculators and, starting in the late 1990s, for generating electricity in homes.
Today, Panasonic is working with organizations across the world to put its HIT® solar cells to use - for example, on Lizard Island.
Located on the northern tip of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, Lizard Island is home to an abundant population of giant monitor lizards. These fearsome reptiles prompted Captain James Cook, when he explored the area in 1770, to give the island its unforgettable name. In addition to being a prestigious resort area, the island is also home to the Lizard Island Research Station, where researchers carry out important studies on coral reef biodiversity.
- Photo by TaneSinclair-Taylor ©2010
The Great Barrier Reef is extremely sensitive to environmental pressures. In recent years, rising water temperatures and acidification of the ocean from the burning of fossil fuels have begun to pose severe threats to the coral. To reduce its own carbon footprint, Lizard Island Research Station decided to install Panasonic HIT® solar panels capable of generating 30kW of power.
Thanks to the solar panels, the research station was able to reduce its annual CO2 emissions by an estimated 64%. Moreover, both visitors and staff appreciate the reduction in noise from not having to run diesel generators.
This is one of the numerous examples of how Panasonic is working with organizations across the world to put its HIT® solar modules to use. For some further examples from Japan, Asia and Europe, check out the videos below.