Recent news surrounding the solar power industry hasn’t been all that rosy amid the uncertain global economy and market outlook. However, many experts still believe in the long-term growth potential of solar and its prospects of becoming one of the most significant renewable energy sources.
Despite differing views on the industry's outlook, we believe solar energy can always be put to good use – not just generating electricity for residential or commercial utilization, but also for something really meaningful that can positively impact people’s lives.
A prime example of this is the use of solar power in education. Of course, solar-powered calculators, notebooks or other educational resources all contribute to improving the learning environment for young students. But what about an entire school or classroom that’s powered by solar energy?
Samsung this week unveiled its first Solar Powered Internet School in South Africa to help students in their studies without having to worry about electricity or Internet connectivity. The environmentally-friendly, transportable classroom is a perfect fit for Africa as it addresses one of the region’s biggest challenges – providing stable supply of electricity in rural areas.
Meet Samsung's Solar Powered Internet School!
The 12-meter renovated container has solar panels installed on the roof that can generate nine hours of electricity a day, powering the electronic equipments inside the classroom. The classroom is equipped with a 50-inch electronic board, Internet-enabled solar-powered notebooks, Samsung’s Galaxy tablet computers as well as Wi-Fi cameras – all of which help enrich the learning experience.
Up to 21 students can use the classroom, and the entire curriculums until grade 12 are stored in a central computer server enabling two-way learning by connecting to the Internet. The school can also be moved easily with a truck so that students in even the remotest of areas can continue their education.
We believe young students should not be deprived of the learning opportunity just because the lack of electricity limits access to schools and the Internet. The Solar Powered Internet School is just one of Samsung’s efforts to contribute to the local community with its innovative technologies and we plan to expand these schools to other regions throughout Africa.
Part of this effort was also possible because of the fact that Samsung produces competitive solar panels that are efficient and have high sunlight conversion rates. Samsung last year identified solar as one of its new growth businesses, aiming to invest 6 trillion won ($5.4 billion) until 2020 to generate 10 trillion won in annual revenue by that year.
Samsung SDI Co., which makes rechargeable batteries for mobile devices, is responsible for our solar business and currently has a capacity to produce 150 megawatts, with plans to increase production to 3 gigawatts by 2015. Samsung has been working on the solar cell technology since 2007 and achieved the industry’s top-level solar cell efficiency with cells using crystalline silicon — around 19 percent.
Moreover, Samsung SDI's strength in energy storage systems will help the company offer competitive products in solar power generation and storage.
To learn more about Samsung’s five new growth businesses, visit the Economist, which this month published an extensive story on how we are focusing on green technology and healthcare. Regarding our solar businesses, the article said:
In solar energy Samsung plans to make panels for both domestic and industrial use. Producing panels for “utility-scale” projects may allow it to lower prices for the residential market. Changsik Choi, who heads the business, also speaks optimistically of a “brand halo effect”: consumers whose living rooms are stuffed with Samsung products may choose the company for their rooftops too.
Also read an interview from Reuters last month here, which provides an outlook on the solar industry and Samsung SDI's strategy in the business.