When you have an ample source of renewable energy, why waste non-renewable alternatives? It seems, the government of USA has given this a careful thought and has proclaimed a plan to maximize the production of solar panels in the first half of 2016 to 35 gigawatts. When compared to the amount of solar panels developed worldwide, this number is exceptionally very large. Thanks to the declining cost of installing and developing solar panels, the market for these will grow globally by 2017.
Even if the solar panel market is new, one cannot deny its potential as an alternative to fossil fuels. On many occasions, we have seen these panels being used for solar pool heating or for lighting up an apartment. But you will be quite surprised to see how this energy is used in some unexpected areas. Here are 10 of the most unexpected uses of solar power that will leave you awestruck.
1. Movie Theatre
Can you even imagine watching a movie in a theatre where everything technical is running with the support of solar power? Well, you may not find a big screen here, but this petite theatre receives its power from four large lithium ion batteries, charged up by 120W solar panels. So, there will be no chances of power failure. Sol Cinema, as this converted two berth 1960’s caravan is also known as, uses an LED video projector and accommodates from eight to 12 adults. This UK-based theater will spice up your adventure movie while you sit comfortably in the vintage car, munching on your popcorn.
Back in 2010, engineers in Switzerland spent seven years in developing a plane that is powered by solar panels. Solar Impulse flew at an altitude of 4000 feet for more than 24 hours continuously. When solar panel on vehicle is still rare, this plane has 12,000 solar cells that help it fly even after sunset.
Again in 2013, equipped with more than 17,000 solar cells, Solar Impulse 2 took off from Abu Dhabi. This aircraft aims to fly around the world using solar cells to run four electric motors charged by lithium batteries.
The Green Music Group has taken a big leap with its environment protection decision. This coalition of musicians and music lovers prefers people to download albums instead of buying hard copies and their tour buses run on biodiesel. Inspired by the Green Music Group’s initiative, popular Caribbean musician Turtuga Blanku has successfully developed a solar-powered studio. He has placed four pairs of solar panels on the roof to store the power in a battery, which helps him operate the studio by night.
4. Vending Machines
What would it be like getting your favorite chocolate bar from a vending machine operated by solar power? Well, you need to ask the users of this machine in Fuji. The moss-covered vending machine has solar panels that store energy to keep the beverages cool.
Similar to this is yet another machine developed by Springwise. This sleeker solar- powered refrigerator helps to keep its content at the right temperature. The solar panels recharge the batteries, which assist the machine to maintain its temperature at night and even on a cloudy day.
5. Solar Market
You walk into a market to buy fresh organic vegetables. Now, what if the market you walk into is operated naturally? Welcome to Albuquerque Downtown Growers Market, where everything is powered by solar energy. From ATM to espresso machines, and equipment beyond that, all power-operated devices in this marketplace count upon four 240W solar panels. These rolling solar cells are strong enough to store energy and run the entire market.
6. Solar Bike Path
A Dutch company in collaboration with the Dutch Government has created a bike path, which is about 70 meters long. This path acts like one large solar panel, generating more than 700 kilowatts of power, enough to produce electricity for two to three households in a year.
The company has placed layers of silicon solar cells in between concrete slabs and a layer of tempered glass. It was a challenge to keep the top layer clean and free from dirt, so that the cells can capture the sunlight seamlessly. Moreover, the path has to be skid-resistant and strong for the bikers. However, the company was successful in developing and installing this SolaRoad within five years, spending almost $3.8 million.
7. Solar Trashcans
Have you ever heard about a trashcan that runs on solar power? A Newton-based company has made it possible. They have left a mark by selling solar trashcans and recycle compactors in cities like New York, Chicago, Berlin and Amsterdam. Bigbelly Solar Inc. has sold roughly 30,000 bins so far. Each one has solar panels on it to power a battery. Moreover, this helps the compactor to work for more than 72 hours without sunlight. An in-built system in the bin sends signals to the company’s servers about various situations, including the times when the bins need emptying. This saves money spent otherwise on unnecessary trips to clean the bins.
8. Solar Boat
A boat that is fully operated by solar power — MS Turanor PlanetSolar is what you are looking at. This largest solar boat is 35 meters long with catamaran that completely depends on solar panels. These supply power to six lithium-ion batteries and once this is fully charged, the boat can travel for 72 hours at night. This German solar boat has been successful in completing a world tour in 584 days.
9. Solar Tent
The U.S. military has taken an initiative to harness the sun’s power and use it in the tents they use on various occasions. The flexible panels power batteries, computers, and other gear, which otherwise need large amounts of fuel. Such tents are currently used in places like Horn of Africa, and Afghanistan. The army scientists are working hard to produce photovoltaic textiles, which will help to charge up devices using power generated from solar panels on shirts. By 2025, the Department of Defense aims to use renewable sources for producing or procuring 25 percent of the total energy required for defense purposes.
10. Solar Carports
A parking lot with solar carport – what do you think? Unique, of course! On one hand, the car gets all the necessary protection from bad weather and on the other, the company uses the energy stored in the panels to charge stations for electric cars and for other purposes. California has welcomed this idea and it is expected that the market will grow in the coming years. The installation is easy and helps to save electricity.
While many may believe that the Sun Belt cities like Tampa have a greater scope for using solar solutions, it is not necessarily correct. Even snow-covered Antarctica is gearing up to use the sun’s unlimited power. Apart from the sun, all you need is the willingness to adopt this green energy. As they say, everything is truly under the sun! So how are you using this powerful energy of nature?
Featured photo credit: Solar Energy via processindustryforum.com