Not seven days ago, netizens were chuckling away at the expense of electronics giant Sharp Corporation’s efforts to install anti-bacterial air purifiers on top of photocopiers, with many forecasting the end for one of Japan’s once greatest innovators.

But recent news of affordable, ultra-efficient and easy-to-install solar panels from the very same company has brought those fervently blogging fingers to a sudden halt.

Solar panels, while very effective in the right environment and conditions, are hardly the most reliable of energy sources. Add to this the cost involved to purchase and install the panels, as well as their less-than-appealing aesthetic design, and it’s little wonder that few people take the idea seriously or are willing to invest the capital to get their home hooked up.

Sharp, it seems, has come up with solutions to the majority of these problems, and have a few extra surprises for us…

The new solar panels are reportedly made from the same glass fibres currently used in modern construction, with microcrystalline silicon cells (the bits that transform sunlight into power) sandwiched between two sheets of the stuff. Stay with me- it gets more exciting soon! This silicon doesn’t come cheap- hence the cost of solar panels- but Sharp maintains that its newest solar panel uses less than one percent of the amount used in conventional models. In spite of that, each panel can produce up to 95.0W, while also helping prevent heat from passing through the glass.

So, what does all that mean? It means clean, safe energy just got cheaper for you and me, and that early adopters, as often happens with new technology, perhaps start getting a little bit butt-hurt.

This all sounds great, but will consumers really want to install an array of these things on their already-costly home? Well, that could well be the best part- Sharp is aiming to launch these panels not as huge, ugly additions to our roofs, but as a replacement for regular glass and windows.

Thanks to the semi-transparent nature of the panels, it’s quite feasible that, as well as getting light into our homes, in the not-too-distant future, we could all be charging our iPhones and hooking up our home cinema systems to a power supply created by light filtering through our very windows.

Huge skyscrapers in metropolitan areas like Tokyo and Osaka could, potentially, act as enormous power generators, even operating independently of the grid on brighter days. With that stylish see-through black design, we can image expensive corporate buildings looking rather suave with their windows replaced with Sharp’s new panels. Public areas could also benefit from built-in glass panels as a part of outdoor walk-ways, literally soaking up energy all day round.

Where we see regular glass today, there is potential for power-producing solar energy panels in the future. RocketNews24, too, might be able to afford to run an air-conditioner next year, helping prevent horrific scenes like this from happening ever again…

And even if you’re not the most eco-conscious electricity user, the thought of getting power for free from good-old Mr. Sun is a pretty nice one, no?

Source: Sharp Corporation Japan