Photovoltaics – A great tradition of innovation
Ever Sharp Pencil
In 1912, our company founder Tokuji Hayakawa opened a metalworking shop in Tokyo. From the very beginning, he wanted to make an original contribution to society – with products that made people happy. His motto was: "Introduce products onto the market that others will want to imitate."
This ambition not only provided Japan with the "Ever Sharp" mechanical pencil, which gave our company its name, but also with the first radio and television.
Hayakawa's pioneering spirit still forms the basis of our company philosophy today. Sincerity and creativity are the main ideals of the Sharp Corporation. With our "one-of-a-kind management", introduced in 1998, we have set ourselves a target of continuing to produce innovative, environmentally-friendly products.
Photovoltaics – Germany’s favourite energy source
According to a Forsa survey, solar energy is the most popular energy source among Germans. Regardless of their political leanings or social position, almost all German citizens want consistent state aid for photovoltaics (PV) to continue. This result supports the efforts of Sharp to make solar power generation a major element of energy supply.
Photovoltaics, the generation of clean, CO²-free power from the sun, has created a green industry sector providing an important impetus for the national economy and creating new jobs. At present, over 20,000 people are employed in the photovoltaics industry in Germany, and this number is increasing.
From pioneer to number 1
As a pioneering solar specialist, Sharp’s research and development has paved the way for groundbreaking progress in solar technology time and again. Sharp is the world leader in solar cell production, with a production capacity of 400 megawatts in 2005. Whether in satellites, lighthouses, industrial applications, public buildings or apartment blocks, our solar cells provide power everywhere. Every fourth photovoltaic module installed in the world is produced by Sharp. In this way, we make a significant contribution to successfully establishing solar energy world-wide.
46 years of Sharp Solar
Sharp has been working on solar energy for industrial use since 1959. Our sense of responsibility for the environment makes Sharp a global driving force in the research and development of photovoltaics. At the same time, Sharp is striving to become a "zero global warming impact company" – saving just as much greenhouse gas emissions as the company produces worldwide.
A wide range of applications
Sharp solar cells are also used in satellites.
Sharp PV modules are installed in over 130 satellites, in over 1,200 lighthouses, in road traffic and industrial applications, in public buildings and apartment blocks. The wide range of applications proves the fact that Sharp PV modules can be integrated into many different environments.
Sharp's ambitious efforts are based on a strong commitment to the environment. The Sharp Corporation is on the way to becoming a "Green Company" and places a high value on the design of recyclable products and increased promotion of innovative recycling technologies in particular.
Historical development of solar technology at Sharp
- 1959: Development of solar cells begins
- 1963: Mass production of solar cells
- 1966: Installation of solar cells in the world's largest lighthouse at that time
- 1976: First installation of solar cells on a Japanese satellite
- 1980: Introduction of pocket calculators with solar cells
- 1988: Installation of a PV system at the OITA Maritime Ranch
- 1989: Development of amorphous silicon solar cells
- 1992: Development of polycrystalline silicon and monocrystalline cells
- 1994: Introduction of PV systems for use on private houses
- 1995: Sharp wins the Eighth Technology Award of the Japanese government for PV systems on private houses
- 2000: Global market leader with a total production capacity of 50.4 MW Installation of the 1,000th lighthouse with a Sharp solar system
- 2001: Investment to increase the production capacity to 94 MW per year
- 2004: Expansion of the annual production capacity to 315 MW
- 2005: Expansion of the annual production capacity to 400 MW
Production sites of Sharp photovoltaic modules
Hurricanes, floods, dwindling resources: industrial and energy politicians need to rethink their attitude to prevent global warming from becoming a worst case scenario. Everyone can and must make a personal contribution to providing long-term protection of our planet from environmental damage.
Green and good
To continually improve environmental protection, we have developed the "3G-1R Strategy" based on four basic principles. The term Green Products refers to the development of products that are environmentally-friendly, have low energy consumption, a design that saves natural resources and long service lives. Green Factories represent environmentally-friendly production via optimised manufacturing processes and constant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Green Mind means training our employees on environmental and sustainability issues and encouraging active involvement in environmental programs. 1R stands for Recycling Business and refers to planned collection and recycling of Sharp products at the end of their service lives, and giving them an environmentally-friendly journey into the future.
Introducing the energy turnaround today
The sun has been shining its benevolent warmth upon us for 4.6 billion years. In less than an hour, the sun emits as much energy to the earth as is used by the entire population of the planet in one year. In light of the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels, the future of energy supply lies with renewable energy sources and a modern approach to using them. The sun as environmentally-friendly "power station" is particularly important here, even for Germany.
Solar power becomes the most important energy source
A global change of energy sources is coming. Especially with regard to achieving a healthy balance between economic growth and ecological responsibility for us all, and for planet Earth.
The future lies in renewable energy sources and modern methods of obtaining them. Innovative and user-friendly solutions are needed to ensure our quality of life.
Solar power generation will allow us to save over 180 million tons of CO² annually by 2020. According to the Enquete Commission of the German Parliament, a reduction of over 85 % could be achieved by 2050.
In the long term, solar power is regarded as the most important primary energy source worldwide: by 2050, solar power could provide 24% of the global energy production, and this may rise to 63 % by 2100. These figures already take into consideration a continuing increase in global energy requirements.
Solar power: cost-effective, clean and environmentally-friendly
At present, each German consumer pays only about 40 cents per year for the expansion of solar power use (apportionment of the feed-in tariff on all German electricity customers). With the increase in installed solar power output to 2,100 MW by 2010 (2001: 180 MW), the predicted proportion to be contributed to a solar future by every consumer is 4.50 euros. By comparison: 48.80 euros is contributed annually for the coal industry (2001).
50% of the gross electricity generation in Germany comes from lignite and coal, but these resources are exhaustible as well. The end is also in sight for natural gas: by 2066, it will no longer be possible to use natural gas for heating.
What about nuclear energy? This is both politically controversial and unwanted by the majority of society, not to mention the fact that the problems of ultimate waste disposal still have not been solved. The sun, by contrast, will continue to shine and provide energy for approx. another 5 billion years.
Solar energy as a security package
The expansion of solar energy is also important for security reasons. Solar energy offers the national economy security against raw material crises. Entering the solar energy age can thus help to avoid raw material wars and stabilise global security. Renewable energies also provide independence from price variations in fossil fuels. Most of the added value then remains in the country. Germany would become energy independent.
Photovoltaics preserves the environment
A photovoltaic system is a direct connection to the sun and exceptionally environmentally-friendly. Operating a PV system produces absolutely no emissions, such as the greenhouse gas CO². The energy balance of a photovoltaic module is also positive. The energy required to construct the module is balanced after only two years of operation, and rapid progress is reducing this factor still further.
Recycling used photovoltaic modules
In 2002, Sharp developed technology for recycling old photovoltaic modules. The general overhaul involves giving the module a new epoxy rear side, facilitating re-use of the glass front, the solar cells and the other materials.
Another recycling method includes melting down the module components (except the solar cells), building new cells from these wafers, and using them to manufacture new modules. The rapid growth of the market for photovoltaic products means that recycling PV modules will occupy an important role in the future.