I thought I’d do a little sniffing around this evening and compile some of the most interesting and innovative uses for solar power technology to date. If you have more or others, please submit them!
#10 – Bolivia’s Solar Power Project
Talk about power
off the grid
, this installation project in a remote area of Bolivia is funded by a local NGO and installed by British undergraduate students.
#9 – Solar Powered Sedan
How about a solar powered sedan? Canadian engineer Steve Lapp managed to eke 10% more fuel economy out of this Prius.
#8 – Solar Powered Carport Deck
Ahh.. solar by boat! From the project engineer, hobbyist, and
owner: “Most of the time the system works faultlessly, churning out the wattage needed to power everything I need…I almost envy the ignorance of authorities and folk who don’t ‘see’ that renewable energy is worth the implementation costs.”
#7 – Solar Power iPad Charger
When I first saw this, I thought someone must be screwing with me. But when I considered how useful something like this vest might be, I thought this was a pretty cool idea. I mean, imagine you’re on some kind of hike somewhere, got lost and needed to rely on all of your Survivorman skills to get back to humanity. Even if you turn the wrong way, get deeper into nowhere, and were on the verge of death… you’ve got a fully functional iPod.
#6 – Google Solar Power Power Project
Google is in the processes of outfitting solar panels on the rooftops of the entire Googleplex. If you haven’t seen the scope of this project, check it out
According to Google, the installation is projected to produce enough electricity for approximately 1,000 California homes or 30% of Google’s peak electricity demand.
#5 – Solar Powered Technology used in Windows
Solar powered windows. What? A Japanese firm has created technology which enables the harness of solar energy from multiple directions, not merely from a flat surface. They call it “Sphelar”. Imagine a solar dome like the one pictured below finding its way into Green architecture. Sweet!
Also…. this thing.
#4 – Solar Fountains!
Sometimes the best ideas really are the most simple. Solar fountain! While fountains have been aesthetically pleasing all of us for quite some time, powering those pumps can take a slow but steady toll on the planet. Throw an efficient solar cell in the middle and presto! A self sustaining water-thrower. Maybe if Google ran the Bellagio, you might see a similar setup out front.
#3 – solar powered USB cell phone chargers
Ok, screw the vest. If you really want to save yourself in a pinch, you might want to consider one of these solar powered USB cell phone chargers.
#2 – Solar powered LED umbrella
Remember how simple is best? Well ok. Solar powered LED umbrella. The cells charge up during the day and at night you have high-powered LED patio lighting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these popping up on ritzy homes and beachfront bistros in the near future. Nice.
#1 – Suspended Solar Power Plants in Space
Ok space fanatics, US government researchers have ideas for energy generation via these suspended solar power plants. Feasible? Umm. Maybe? Will this ever happen? Maybe not, but here’s the justification: “Sunlight is eight times less intense on the earth’s surface than in its geostationary orbit. So why not collect it in space and beam its energy to Earth via microwave power beam, which can penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently? They have proposed putting in orbit mega-satellites – giant, possibly inflatable structures of photovoltaic arrays and antennas – that would do just that. At receiving stations on Earth, the beam could be converted into electricity or synthetic fuels, which, in contrast to power from terrestrial solar power stations, would flow continuously to the grid independent of the season, weather or location.” – US State Department Solar Energy Research
What about Japan? They’ve already got concrete plans: “Japan plans to launch a solar satellite by 2040, which will deliver energy to the earth via low-intensity microwaves. The satellite will absorb the sun’s energy 24 hours a day, unobstructed by clouds, and generate one million kilowatts per second – equal to the output of a nuclear power plant.”
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