Solar Brings Freedom from Traditional Technology
by Taylor Gendel, ISEA Intern
Independence Day is upon us and I couldn’t help but notice several new innovations in solar. Solar energy is everywhere and its presence gives us the possibility to become increasingly independent from other, less clean sources of energy. As technology expands, so do the opportunities to put panels in places that were never before possible. Here are some recent ways to capture and use solar energy.
1. Cars: No, not electric cars that you can charge with a solar station. Actual cars that have solar panels on them! Here is a list complete with pictures. It includes a solar paneled golf cart, and a solar camper van! Imagine a camping trip where you could be completely isolated from humanity yet still have a power source.
2. Benches: In Boston, park benches will now charge your cell phone! The new solar benches, called Soofa, are a new project from Changing Environments, a group of 3 women from the MIT media lab. The solar seats have USB ports to charge electronics and send location-based data like air quality and noise level to their website.
3. Roads: By now you’ve probably seen one of your friends post this on Facebook, but a couple in Idaho is working on a way to cover roadways with solar panels! Solar Roadways have many innovative elements including heating abilities to melt snow and ice, five-color LED lighting to create road lines, and corridors for moving and storing storm water. The surface of the panels is made out of textured glass that can withstand 250,000 pounds. Solar Roadways has already received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration for research and development. The roads are still in production but this is definitely a project to look out for!
4. Pop-up Solar Stations: The Ecos Powercube is a fully functioning solar-powered energy station. It is transportable and can be used for disaster relief, in refugee situations, and all around the world. It has wifi capability for up to 30 miles, a small wind turbine which adds to the energy stored in onboard batteries for later use, and it can draw moisture from the air to make clean drinking water. If that’s not enough it also opens up to a space inside that can function as a temporary shelter, school, or medical center AND it can act as a generator to power other buildings. Sounds like a win win win win win win win….you get it.
Taylor Gendel is ISEA's Program Development Intern. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013 with a degree in Community and Environmental Sociology and an Environmental Studies certificate. She is originally from Evanston, IL.