SOFTCELL by Korean company SOFTPV is the world’s first SMD type solar cell that generates electricity not only under sunlight but also indoor lighting.
By now, it’s common knowledge that the only way for our planet to survive is to go green. Climate change is real and rapidly ravaging our planet. 3 billion people are projected to live in “un-liveable conditions” by 2070 due to the ever-increasing rates of global warming. Energy supply needs to shift from black to green.
South Korea is one of the countries that has big ambitions for making its energy supply greener.
The country already relies, albeit to a small extent, on solar- its leading source of renewable energy- for its power needs.
However, SOFTPV’S SOFTCELL technology has the potential to be the breakout invention that pushes their Green Initiative over the edge and transforms South Korea’s energy dynamic, helping the country realize its ambitious goals.
A Greener Korea: Why South Korea Needs Renewable Energy
South Korea’s renewable energy efforts actually predate the signing of the Paris Agreement. The country was exploring green energy sources as early as 2008 when the Korean government decided to increase investments in renewable energy by 60%.
More recently, President Moon Jae-in’s administration has prioritized green energy as a cornerstone of its policy, unveiling the Green New Deal in late 2020.
The Green New Deal and SOFTCELL’s Role in It
The Green New Deal lays out an ambitious plan, calling for 42% of South Korea’s power generation to stem from green sources by 2034.
President Moon Jae-in’s administration has vastly expanded the scope for green players in the energy sector, with a projected investment of $46 billion in renewable energy by 2030.
Solar has emerged as the leading source. Harnessing solar energy is dependent on the technology and the devices in play, as opposed to wind energy, where other environmental factors are involved. So, solar seems to be the choice for Korea.
But so far, many solar energy initiatives have suffered various setbacks: from energy wastage to aesthetic displeasure, and there are multiple issues when it comes to solar.
SOFTPV’s SOFTCELL technology has positioned itself as the answer to those very concerns.
SOFTPV Pushes The Boundaries On “Renewable”
“Rethink Energy. Design the Future.” These are the words that form SOFTPV’s ethos. The company has invested in, researched and developed an energy conduit that is truly revolutionary.
SOFTPV’s product is a truly photovoltaic device, as it can generate energy from any light source- organic and inorganic. This means that the sun is no longer the boundary for solar energy; with SOFTPV’s technology, any light source can help generate electricity.
How have they done that? Well, with the help of a little something called the SOFTCELL.
SOFTCELL: The “Battery” Of The Future
Silicon has always been at the heart of solar energy, but many conventional solar panels often lead to wastage due to their design. SOFTCELL fixes this design issue and makes energy generation a more efficient and effective process.
SOFTCELL is a unique Surface Mount Device (SMD) that comes in the shape of a small silicon ball, 1.1 mm in diameter, with two electrodes attached to the bottom of the ball. Each SOFTCELL generates 0.35 mW (megawatts) of power.
The spherical shape of this cell allows it to maximize power generation, owing to its surface area. It is compact, which allows for more aesthetic freedom when assembling the final product.
That’s right: the SOFTCELL is only the first part of SOFTPV’s innovative green energy device.
SOFTCELL + SOFTFORM = SOFTGOODS
SOFTPV’s revolutionary technology has three components:
- the SOFTCELL, which is the solar cell,
- the SOFTFORM, the printed circuit board for the cell, and
- SOFTGOODS, which are produced when you combine the former two
SOFTFORM is a flexible & transparent PCB substrate that can be customized to your needs, down to the pads of the circuit and the number of SOFTCELLS or other devices you want to mount on it. It allows for transparency when required, and its flexibility depends on your requirement, as it comes both as a transparent film and a rigid board.
What’s best about the SOFTFORM is it allows you to generate energy without compromising on aesthetics. The SOFTFORM can be shaped to your liking, allowing you to go green your way.
The final product is what SOFTPV calls SOFTGOODS. It is a full-fledged, multi-functional module that can be used for various purposes.
You can mount the SOFTCELL, micro-batteries, sensors, communication chips, LED, and other electronic components that function as an active module under lighting conditions. This takes the application possibilities of the SOFTCELL way beyond simple solar power generation. It integrates power generation, power retention, and digital communication in a neat, customizable package that can generate electricity from anywhere between 65 to 250 W/m2.
How SOFTGOODS Can Transform Our Lives And Make Them Greener
SOFTPV’s technology has both conventional BIPV and Smart BIPV applications. BIPV is a PV system where solar panels are attached to the structure of the building, like facades, beams, windows and more.
SOFTPV’s BIPV SOFTCELL provides minimal aesthetic damage while ensuring maximum power generation. It can even be layered to boost the supply.
The Film Type module can be attached to your building’s window. The Roll Type module makes the SOFTCELL portable as it can be detached and carried as a self-sufficient power source.
The Smart BIPV module functions as an all-encompassing module. It generates power and issues early warning alerts in case of impending natural disasters, allows coordination between a building’s defense systems (mainly drones), and acts as a backup power generator. This gives it the potential to become an excellent monitoring device, something the company is already looking into.
This marvel in technological innovation was rightly designated an Honoree at the 2021 CES Innovation Awards in the Sustainability, Eco-Design & Smart Energy category, for it has the potential to shape the future.
SOFTCELL Is The Future Of Green Energy
SOFTPV’s thirst for innovation has not yet been quenched. The company is seeking multiple avenues to engineer the SOFTCELL to match South Korea’s green ambitions.
SOFTPV is currently exploring avenues to bring the SOFTCELL technology to nature. It is working on its Solar Tree project to harness solar energy through SOFTGOODs planted on trees, effectively converting them into mini power plants.
The company is also exploring portable SOFTCELL devices that will keep devices like watches, pacemakers and other pieces of technology we carry with us charged and ready to go.
Solar energy looks set to take center stage in Korea’s energy policy, and SOFTCELL is poised to become its leading act.