VIDEO: Sharp’s ‘Smart Chap’ Aims To Revolutionise Domestic Solar  

Peter Thiele, president, Sharp Energy Solutions Europe, talks to Melissa Hancock about the company’s home solar energy management offering and how digitalisation can drive the renewables revolution

While there is no shortage of companies eager to talk about their new solar power offerings today, it was a very different story nearly 60 years ago. Which makes Sharp’s contributions to the development of the solar energy industry that much more impressive.

The Japanese electronics giant was one of the first to realise the potential of solar energy; it started developing its solar cells in 1959 and its research and development efforts since have led to groundbreaking solar solutions.

“For PV – we have a long history – almost 60 years of experience,” Thiele tells Impact4All in an exclusive video interview. “We started with a solar cell being an optoelectronic component, and out of this, we developed sophisticated products with very high quality standards.”

Sharp’s solar cells have been used to power the satellites in many of Japan’s national projects, as well as lighthouses and mega solar power plants, but it has recently sharpened its focus towards domestic solar power generation and consumption.

Sharp’s solar cells have been used to power the satellites in many of Japan’s national projects, as well as lighthouses and mega solar power plants, but it has recently sharpened its focus towards domestic solar power generation and consumption.

“We have a new area all around Smart Home that includes intelligent appliances, plus also energy creation and management, to which the PV technology belongs,” says Thiele.

Central to this is Smart Chap – a new technology created by Sharp that is suitable for any home that has existing PV panels, as well as for new installations.

Smart Chap connects to your home distribution system and looks at your energy household in its entirety: from the generation of solar energy and its storage, through to consumption and the purchase and sale of your energy.

The Smart Chap app allows you to see how much energy is currently being generated by your solar panel, how charged the battery is and how much energy is being consumed in the home. It also enables you to see how much of your own energy is consumed at which time of the day, how independent you are from the energy provider and how this degree of self-sufficiency can be further increased.

Hardly a surprise then that Thiele is confident that digitalisation will help to drive the renewables revolution.

“Photovoltaics is a technology that allows a decentralised energy creation. Therefore, all these decentralised plants need to be connected and coordinated so that there is a meaningful contribution to the grid and to the energy demand in a country,” he says. “And therefore digitalisation can help a lot to understand what the generation is in every plant and also what the demand is in certain areas. And all of this can, together with storage technologies, be coordinated in a very meaningful manner.”

Looking ahead, Thiele says political obstacles are one of the key challenges facing the global solar energy industry today: “not everywhere does decentralised energy creation have the political support it desires.”

He notes that while “PV has become quite a mature technology, the big challenge now is to make it a global energy creation technology that not only has acceptance in developed markets, but also in new markets, so that everyone has access to decentralised electricity generation.”

 

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One comment

  • Stephen

    August 25, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Can you grrow silicon solar cells by the meters square now days or are they still cosmetic…
    Im nearly half a centuary out of date too…..

    Reply

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Impact4All is designed to deliver the full spectrum of news, analysis and connectivity that allows all players and audiences to become informed and participate at any level in the new energy sector. It is designed to break down barriers between audiences, activists and investors.

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