Electronics giant Sharp Corporation has developed the world’s thinnest solar cell and plans to use these to its launch first solar-powered mobile phones in Japan.
Less than a millimetre thick, the solar cell is the industry’s thinnest.
And the phones are also waterproof — which will be useful to me as someone who has dropped more than one phone into the sea, and down the loo!
All that sounds very good, and positive for the future. But consider this. How much energy does a mobile phone use? Not very much. So the energy that the solar cell will generate during its lifetime is not very much.
How much energy does it take to manufacture the solar cell in the first place? Probably quite a bit.
And then on top of that there’s all the energy needed to carry out the research and development…
And so if the energy needed to make these solar cells is more than the energy they generate, then they are not sustainable. We still need other energy sources like oil to make them.
That is the equation we need to start thinking about: energy generated minus energy consumed. But on that, Sharp is saying nothing.
Meanwhile competitor Samsung debuted its first solar-powered handset at the Mobile World Congress Show in Barcelona earlier this year.