In what may be one of its most ambitious solar projects to date, Japan again affirms its reputation for technological savvy: the country’s space agency plans to send arrays of photovoltaic dishes right outside of earth’s atmosphere, where it will collect solar energy and beam it back down using laser beams or microwaves. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans to have the Space Solar Power System (SSPS) up and running in geostationary orbit by 2030, and the government has already selected the companies and researchers to realize this goal. (Power players include Mitsubishi Electric, Fujitsu and Sharp.)
While it doesn’t have the ring or the fame of the Indy 500, the World Solar Challenge can make one promise the Greatest Spectacle in Racing can’t: every single car in the competition is low-emission—because every single car in the competition is powered by the sun. Part of the bigger Global Green Challenge, which also includes a race that pits production vehicles—such as the Tesla Roadster and Honda Civic—against each other, the World Solar Challenge is a competition that sends solar racecars through roughly 1,880 miles of Australian desert, savannah and jungle in a low-emissions race to the finish.
The solar industry’s recovery is just over the horizon, with help from U.S. stimulus funds, new government projects and new methods of financing—or that’s how an executive from solar powerhouse Sharp Corp. sees it, anyway.
The country that used to produce half of the world’s solar cells is making strides toward reclaiming its former glory—and is poised to riding out the current solar panel glut with relative ease, according to The Economist. The article profiles Japan’s resurgent solar power sector, which saw its market share eroded to an average of 20% by its primarily Chinese and Taiwanese challengers over the past five years but has not lost its competitive edge.