Apple may go solar

by Antonio Pasolini on May 28, 2008

The internet is abuzz with reports that Apple may integrate solar cells into its portable devices by placing them underneath the layers of a touch-sensitive display. The New York Times writes that a patent called ‘Solar cells on portable devices’ was filed by employees.

Indeed, solar power would add new meaning to the word portable by freeing devices from wires and power supplies. But there seems to be a glitch. “When generating electricity from solar panels, the larger the panel the better but as the patent warns, after allowing space for buttons, screens and a way to hold the device, only a small area is left on most devices for solar cells. One of the ways around that suggested in the patent is to stack a touch-sensitive layer, a display and solar panel on top of one another.”

If portable solar cell-powered devices really become a reality at Apple, the company might be able to improve its rotten green credentials. According to Greenpeace’s last ‘Green Electronics Guide’, which ranks leading mobile and PC manufacturers on their global policies and practice on eliminating harmful chemicals and on taking responsibility for their products once they are discarded by consumers, Apple is ranked in last place with a score of 2.7 out of a possible 10. Very low indeed, especially for a company that thrives on a cool, hip image.

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