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Japan leads the world in solar power technology. Japan not only produces half the total solar cells made in the world, it also exports 30% of these cells, with expected demand for 20% increases per year. The Japanese government pushes renewable energy policies that have resulted in the installation of more than 100,000 residential solar power systems by 2004, as well as a projection of 5 GW of solar generation capacity by 2010. Japan even plans to launch a solar satellite by 2040, which will deliver energy to the earth via low-intensity microwaves. The satellite will absorb the sun's energy 24 hours a day, unobstructed by clouds, and generate one million kilowatts per second – equal to the output of a nuclear power plant.

Now a Kyoto-based company, Kyosemi, is redesigning the future of photovoltaics themselves. Conventional photovoltaic technology is based on harnessing the sun's rays within a flat substrate, typically comprised by single or poly-crystalline silicon material. This arrangement is easy to design and manufacture; the only problem is that the efficacy of this technology relies on its position relative to the sun. Traditional but expensive solutions to this challenge involve motorized frames that follow the sun's path throughout the day, requiring energy and maintenance in order to work properly.

Kyosemi's solution is based on an entirely different geometry. Their innovative new Sphelar® is a matrix of tiny, spherical-shaped solar cells. The spheres are designed to absorb sunlight at any angle, and therefore do not require motorization for tracking the sun. Based on their geometry, Sphelar cells even optimize the use of reflected and indirect light, and have been shown to convert energy with close to 20% efficiency – beyond most flat photovoltaic technologies. Its flexible disposition also makes Sphelar appropriate for applications at a variety of scales, including mobile electronic devices.


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