Asia Minute: Solar Appliances as a Growth Industry

Jun 2, 2016

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The use of solar energy is still growing in Hawai‘i….although more slowly than in recent years. The Solar Energy Industries Association says $331 million was spent on solar installations across the state last year, an increase of 3% from a year earlier. But while solar installations in Hawai‘i tend to focus on residential electricity, in Asia there’s a different story: consumer electronics. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

A solar-powered television is not a new idea, but a company in Hong Kong is taking the concept to a new level.  Niwa Solar has come up with a color tv with a 23-inch screen that runs on 9 watts of electricity….less than it takes to illuminate a dim light bulb.

The company took top honors in a unique contest this week—aimed at promoting next generation clean energy products….and increasing access to energy.  The awards are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, as part of a larger gathering.

The event itself is run by “Clean Energy Ministerial”—an international grouping of 41 governments that encourages electronic products that can be run off the grid.  The organization says more than a billion people around the world live without adequate access to electricity---while a billion more have less than four hours of reliable electricity each day.

Most of those communities are in sub-Saharan Africa and developing regions of Asia.  The key with making solar-powered appliances more energy efficient is that it will reduce the amount of power needed to run them---which means they would require fewer solar panels.  Another popular item in this year’s contest: table top fans—also run by solar power.  The key for next year’s competition: solar-powered refrigerators.