When you think of renewable energy, odds are, you’re not thinking beautiful.
One Japanese scientist is trying to change that.
Hiroshi Segawa, a professor at University of Tokyo’s Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology has invented a hydrangea-inspired solar cell that combines visual appeal with environmentally conscious technology.
Segawa calls this technology ‘Annabelle’, which comes from a type of white hydrangea. They are designed to look like stained glass, with solar cells built into a latticed wood box that drew inspiration from traditional Japanese doors.
The Annabelle is only 20 cm wide, and on top of being pleasant to look at, it can also store enough energy to charge a cell phone twice.
The “leaves” generate electricity, which is stored inside the framework of the flower.
While this happens, as the device charges with solar energy, the petals slowly turn blue. But as Annabelle’s power gets drained, its blue petals turn white, just like the hydrangea plants.
While Japan isn’t exactly a hot bed for solar energy, Segawa said that his invention works even when lighting is weak.
According to International Energy Statistics, annually Japan currently only creates 10 per cent of the energy used domestically and 94 per cent of that energy comes from non-renewable sources, like coal, oil and natural gas.
With energy consciousness in Japan heightening after the Fukishima Daiichi, nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011, Segawa wanted to change the perception of how energy can look and be created.
“People do not have a very good image about things related to energy, such as nuclear power,” he told the Associated Free Press.
He has also been experimenting with creating cells that looks like France’s Prime Minister, Francois Hollande and even a model that features Japanese pop star, Hatsune Miku.
“You can make solar cells out of animated characters, portraits of real people and lots of other stuff,” he said.