Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
1/6/2009
01:34 PM
Cora Nucci
Cora Nucci
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Solar Power's Breakout Year

The solar industry is the Ugly Betty of clean technology. Photovoltaic panels aren't pretty and solar power isn't yet cheap. But Solar keeps plugging along in its chunky glasses and thick sweaters, inching ever closer to its full potential.

The solar industry is the Ugly Betty of clean technology. Photovoltaic panels aren't pretty and solar power isn't yet cheap. But Solar keeps plugging along in its chunky glasses and thick sweaters, inching ever closer to its full potential.Like Betty, Solar neds to stay plucky, and it can't let a little thing like the worst economic crises in decades slow it down.

Solar has a viable role in clean tech, an industry that will play a key role in turning around the U.S. economy. Already, it's off to a bright start. Let us take a look:

On Monday, Toshiba announced its "full-scale entry" into the solar photovoltaic systems business. The company sees applications for solar technologies beyond consumer electronics, a niche it knows well. Having created a Photovoltaic Systems Division, Toshiba now plans to apply its Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB) technology to large, megawatt-scale projects for utility and industrial plants.

Sharp Electronics, another brand better known for its consumer products than its alt energy components, has solar bona fides: It's been in the solar game for nearly 50 years (who knew?) A 2- megawatt solar energy system at the Denver International Airport is powered by more than 9,000 Sharp solar panels. The system, which covers more than 7 acres, will generate more than 3 million kilowatt hours annually.

A leader in solar cell production, Sharp is on the verge of introducing next-generation thin film solar cells to the U.S. market.

In December Meraki Wireless Networks unveiled Meraki Solar, a solar-powered Wi-Fi mesh kit that allows the rapid deployment of large outdoor, self-sufficient networks. (You may have heard of Meraki. It's a provider of free public WiFi in San Francisco.) Meraki Solar runs on the same type of a lithium iron phosphate battery used to power the One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) computer. These networks can be deployed in disaster areas and in parts of the world where wired networks don't exist.

Toshiba, Sharp and Meraki are off to a strong start. What they are doing may not seem as sexy as some other technologies, but it's vitally important. More companies have to be willing to invest in solar and other clean technologies -- both as buyers and sellers -- so we can start to pull ourselves out of this economic pit.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July10, 2014
When selecting servers to support analytics, consider data center capacity, storage, and computational intensity.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join InformationWeek’s Lorna Garey and Mike Healey, president of Yeoman Technology Group, an engineering and research firm focused on maximizing technology investments, to discuss the right way to go digital.
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.