Japanese firm develops 'sun-tracking' solar power device

Researchers at a Japanese firm have successfully used moving mirrors that track the sun throughout the day to develop a solar power device with double the generating power of current models.

Smart Solar International, a University of Tokyo spin-off that developed the new device, said it would start commercial production of the system in Japan in August.

The device features a row of aluminum mirror bars that can slowly rotate as the sun moves across the sky and reflect its light back onto a central tube that is packed with high-performance, multi-layered solar cells.

The system requires far less expensive silicon than traditional photovoltaic cell panels, and it has a system for preventing overheating that channels any extra warmth for heating water.

"You can get both electricity and heat from the same device," said Takashi Tomita, who heads the spin-off University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology.

The company expects to start marketing operations by October and has targeted Asia and Middle East sales by 2014.