Singapore scientists seek power from darkness through shadow energy

Dr. Swee Ching Tan tests the shadow effect generator device in his lab. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 July 2020

Singapore scientists seek power from darkness through shadow energy

  • The shadow-effect energy generator (SEG) is being developed by the National University of Singapore

SINGAPORE: Scientists in Singapore are hoping to perfect a new method of power generation driven largely by shadows that might one day help cities to power themselves.

The shadow-effect energy generator (SEG) has the potential to harness power as solar panels do but without needing open spaces with uninterrupted light.

To work effectively, the SEG being developed by the National University of Singapore requires both light and dark and, like solar panels, relies on light to shine on silicon to energise electrons.

But using panels that feature a thin layer of either gold, silver, platinum or tungsten, the difference in light intensity drives electrons from lit areas toward the shade, creating electricity in the shaded areas.

“Our shadow effect generator comes in handy. It can be placed in those areas to harvest obstructed light,” said research team leader Dr. Swee Ching Tan.

The research is still in its early stages yet Tan’s team is already thinking about the potential of establishing a company to make SEG available for home use.

The panels the team have been testing are about 6 sq cm in size and capable of producing just 0.25 volts, meaning about 20 are needed to power a light bulb.

The ideal environment for use would be cities, Tan said, with constantly shifting levels of light and shade throughout the day from clusters of tall buildings and the sun’s changing position in the sky.

“It’s not practical to place solar cells in such cities. So the device might come in handy in places like very densely populated cities, where skyscrapers are everywhere, where shadows are always persistent.”  


Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

Updated 11 min 20 sec ago

Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

  • ‘If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected’
  • Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments

PARIS: Bailouts provided to Air France-KLM by the French and Dutch governments will keep the airline flying less than a year, its CEO Benjamin Smith said Monday and evoked the possibility of injecting new capital.
In an interview with the French daily l’Opinion, Smith also warned that calls for airlines to contribute more to fight climate change could be catastrophic for their survival which is already under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When countries imposed lockdowns earlier this year to stem the spread of the coronavirus airlines faced steep drops in revenue that have claimed several carriers.
A number of countries stepped in with support, including France which provided $8.2 billion to Air France and the Netherlands which received a $2.9 billion package.
“This support will permit us to hold on less than 12 months,” said Smith.
The reason is that air traffic is picking up very slowly as many northern hemisphere countries are now fearing a second wave of infections.
“If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected,” according to Smith, who said when the bailout was put together the airline was expecting a return to 2019 levels only in 2024.
Smith said discussions were already underway with shareholders on shoring up the airline group, and steps would be taken before the next regular annual meeting in the second quarter of next year.
“One, three or five billion euros? It is too early to put a figure on a possible recapitalization,” he said.
The airline group had $12.12 billion in cash or available under credit lines.
Major shareholders include the French government with a 14.3 percent stake, the Dutch government at 14 percent, as well as Delta and China Eastern airlines which each hold an 8 percent stake.
Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments.
One proposal that has come from a citizen’s convention convoked by President Emmanuel Macron would cost airlines an estimated $3.6 billion.
Smith said the imposition of environmental charges on the industry would be “irresponsible and catastrophic” for Air France-KLM.