Sharp shows carbon-neutral big-screen TV

Sharp says solar-panel and LCD TV technology is at the stage where a single panel can provide enough power for a TV for 4.5 hours per day.

Sharp is presenting an environmentally friendly way to watch television at this year's IFA electronics show in Berlin.

The company says solar-panel and LCD (liquid crystal display) television technology is at the stage where a single panel can provide enough energy to power the TV for four and a half hours per day with no additional electricity required from the grid.

Sharp is one of the world's largest manufacturers of solar panels for electricity generation and on its stand at IFA it's showing a polycrystalline-type panel that is capable of generating 200kWh (kilowatt hours) per year of electricity. That corresponds to the same amount of energy used by its LC-52XS1E television, a 52-inch model that was introduced at IFA, if it's used 4.5 hours per day, which is the average amount of time a Japanese household spends watching TV each day.

At IFA the TV and a solar panel were set up together on Sharp's stand but were not actually connected. The lack of sunlight inside the exhibition hall meant it wasn't something that could be demonstrated at the show, a Sharp spokesman said.

With the demonstration Sharp isn't intending to suggest that a household buy a single panel to power their TV but an entire roof of panels to power the whole house, the spokesman said.

Consumers and businesses are slowly turning on to solar panels despite the up-front cost of installing them.

Sharp is investing ¥72 billion (US$663 million) to build a new solar panel factory in Japan that will be capable of producing 480 megawatts worth of cells per year by March 2010 when it is due to start production. This and expansion at other plants will bump up total production by Sharp to more than 1 gigawatt of panels per year in the next couple of years.

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Martyn Williams

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