Japanese Invents Stained Glass Solar Cells

December 5, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. resemble /rɪˈzɛm bəl/ (v.) – to look like something else
Example: His house resembles a mini palace.

2. go south /goʊ saʊθ/ (idiom) – to fail or to turn out bad
Example: The plant’s operations will go south if the weather gets worse.

3. cutting-edge /ˈkʌt ɪŋ ɛdʒ/ (adj.) – having the most advanced and updated features
Example: The new windmills use a cutting-edge brand of metal.

4. petty /ˈpɛt i/ (adj.) – being slightly insignificant or having minor value
Example: The kids had some petty arguments while in the room.

5. setback /setˌbæk/ (n.) – a problem that causes inconvenience or gets in the way of something
Example: The calamity caused setback to the company’s production.


Read the text below.
A Japanese professor creates solar cells in a stained glass with a design that resembles a flower.

Hiroshi Segawa from the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) is one of the many advocates of renewable energy. Japanese nuclear power plant operations have gone south since the 2011 nuclear disaster. So, Segawa’s artistic power cell creation is considered a new hope for Japan’s renewable energy dependence.

Segawa named his invention “Annabelle,” after a known type of white hydrangea [hahy-DREYN-juh] flower. The stained glass shows the flower’s design in varying colors with cutting-edge solar cell function. The white petal patterns turn blue as the device stores solar energy and return to white after discharging energy. The green leaf patterns surrounding the flowers then generate electricity from the stored energy.

The glass is attached on a 20-centimeter wide wood box, which makes the device a good indoor decor. Annabelle can reportedly store solar energy that is enough to recharge a smartphone twice.

While Annabelle is petty compared with commercially available solar panels, Segawa hopes that consumers will appreciate the fun that his invention brings in solar cell usage.

He claims that most people have bad impressions with energy resources mainly because of the dangers brought by nuclear power plants. Segawa then cited setbacks with other renewable energy sources. He said solar panels are too space-consuming while windmills can harm birds.

Japan has been leaning toward alternative energy since the disaster happened but factors like unpredictable weather hinders the country’s progress. According to the International Energy Agency, only 4.7 percent of Japan’s total electricity consumption comes from renewable sources.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If given the chance, would you like to have the Annabelle device at your home? Why or why not?
·         How do you think this device will help in Japan’s quest for alternative energy use?

Discussion B

·         Which renewable energy source do you prefer: solar or wind? Kindly explain.
·         Would you like your home to be fully powered by a renewable source of energy? Why do you say so?

December 5, 2014