Light power from solar cells stands out as the most sustainable alternative to disposable batteries. Furthermore, making products that are self-powered through light eliminates the need for battery replacements and enables maintenance-free operation of sensor devices.
The Future of Indoor Solar Cells
Q&A with Anna Björklou, CEO | Epishine
Tell us about yourself and the company Epishine.
I’m Anna Björklou and I’ve been serving as the CEO at Epishine since 2020. Throughout my career I’ve worked in several different industries and held similar roles, but it was Epishine’s unique journey that truly intrigued me like nothing else before. The opportunity to reimagine the way we harness light to create a brighter future and work alongside such an exceptional team of experts in the field is what fuels my passion and motivates me every morning.
Epishine is a leading developer and manufacturer of organic indoor solar cells. Our mission is to reduce the global environmental impact by enabling innovative and smart technologies that meet the demand for sustainable energy solutions. Our business is based on pioneering manufacturing breakthroughs. Our flagship product is a unique indoor solar cell optimized for indoor light that is easily integrated into small low-power electronics.
You mentioned indoor solar cells, tell us more.
Certainly! Our current product line offers solar cells that were specifically developed for indoor lighting conditions. These cells are designed to capture energy from light sources commonly found indoors, similar to how traditional solar cells work outdoors. While they can be placed in applications near windows, they are not suitable for regular outdoor use since they may degrade under intense outdoor light. The indoor solar cell will recover after limited outdoor exposure, but it is not intended for permanent outdoor applications.
How much light does the solar cells need to operate?
The light requirement varies depending on the user case. Our indoor solar cells can power many different types of devices, each with its own energy needs. We assist in integration projects to calculate the appropriate size of the solar cell based on the lighting conditions where the application will be located. For example, one of our standard 50x50mm cells is typically sufficient to power one connected temperature and humidity sensor. ‘
How do you see this product being used and what benefits does it bring?
I would venture to say that the possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to light power. Our indoor products can be seamlessly integrated into everything from sensors and remote controls to electronic shelf labels and locks. The timing for providing a sustainable powering option for low-power electronics has never been better, considering that we have more devices than ever before, and forecasts indicate that this number will continue to escalate in the near future. As the number of devices multiplies, so does the demand for sustainable and cost-effective powering solutions.
Why should companies change their product designs from using previous energy sources and transition to light power?
There are several compelling reasons to shift towards light-powered products. One reason is sustainability. Light power from organic solar cells stands out as the most sustainable alternative to disposable batteries. Furthermore, making products that are self-powered through light eliminates the need for battery replacements and thereby enables maintenance-free operation of sensor devices. Additionally, the flexibility of light-powered products gives an advantage over wired options. In the bigger picture, the integration of light power in IoT (Internet of Things) devices supports sustainability, reduces environmental impact, promotes energy efficiency, and enhances the overall functionality of IoT devices.
What are some of the challenges facing light power and how do you overcome them?
Indoor light power has existed for quite some time now, you may recall old calculators featuring solar cells. However, it hasn’t been widely adopted in various devices before. One of the main challenges has been the occurrence of short circuits leading to sub-optimal performance in low light conditions. This is precisely the issue our patented production process has successfully resolved. We have achieved market-leading high and reliable performance, even in extremely low light environments, making our products an option for so many more products. This breakthrough allows our product to be a viable option for a wide range of applications.
If the devices need light to operate, what happens when the lights are switched off at night or in dark places?
The amount of available light varies based on several factors like the placement of the application or the time of day or year. Handling light variability has different importance on the specific use cases. In situations where the device doesn't have to operate at all times, for instance with thermometers or with asset tracking, light variation poses no issue. For applications needing to operate at times when the light is insufficient, we have multiple options. When there is a need for energy storage, the best solution which impacts cost but not sustainability, is to pair the solar cell with a supercapacitor. Alternatively, the cell can also be integrated with larger sized storage solutions, while still maintaining a high level of sustainability by lengthening the lifetime of the storage system.
Look into the future 5 years, where are we in regard to indoor solar cells and why do you feel it is so important to make this transition?
In less than five years, Indoor solar cells have emerged as the clear solution for powering low power electronics. Our roll-to-roll process of printed solar cells allows for seamless integration with other printed electronics while achieving market-leading performance. We envision a future where everything that is touched by light can capture energy. In just five years, we will be significantly closer to realizing this vision. Our driving force is the transition towards sustainable energy in all its forms is what drives us, for people and planet.
About Anna Björklou, CEO at Swedish Epishine
With an extensive background in leading global industrial companies across diverse sectors, Anna Björklou brings a wealth of experience to her role. Motivated by a shared vision to reimagine the capture of light, she embarked on an exciting adventure with Epishine. With a deep understanding of management and industrialization, combined with a passion for scaling up companies, Anna has successfully spearheaded numerous expansion initiatives across various organizations. She is dedicated to driving sustainable solutions and making a positive impact on the world.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
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