Solar photovoltaic company Sharp is about to launch a panel that lets daylight through and also provides night time illumination. Known as "Lumiwall", the device combines semi-transparent thin film solar cells with 320 high intensity white LEDs in a single unit that will be offered as either a glazing component or in a frame incorporating the battery and charging electronics.
In the daytime the panel acts as a shading element, letting through about 10% of the sunlight while the solar cells generate electricity that is stored in the batteries. At night the electricity powers the LEDs without suing an external power supply.
Sharp intends for this device to be used in commercial and residential environments, such as bus shelters, offices, conservatives, glazed external walkways etc. Lumiwall will be produced in Japan and will be introduced globally in mid 2005.