The impact that solar energy, and indeed all renewable solutions, are having on our energy consumption is undeniable. In the last 12 months alone we’ve learned that Germany produces more than half its energy using solar technology, Costa Rica powered itself on 100% renewable energy in Q1 2015, and Vermont’s largest city managed the same 100% goal last year as well.
But it’s not just day-to-day home and commercial energy use reductions which solar can make an impact on. In the last five years there have been some incredible developments in solar energy solving some very real-world problems – and we’ve hand-picked these five as being amongst the most amazing.
1. ZubaBox – Solar Internet Café
While we all take internet access for granted, ordering food shopping on the train or video chatting with relatives halfway across the world, not everyone’s quite as lucky. The ZubaBox, championed by the organisation Computer Aid, is an internet café built into a shipping container – and completely powered by solar PV technology.
It’s easily transportable and provides everyone from farmers to remote communities with essential and affordable access to the internet – and improves quality of life.
2. Desolenator – Solar-Powered Water Purification
From LEDCs (Lower Economically Developed Countries) to situations (such as at sea or ‘off the grid’) where you don’t have access to drinkable water, the Desolenator is the solution. The technology is a standalone unit which, powered by solar PV panels, takes everything from dirty water to seawater, boils off impurities and leaves safe, clean drinking water.
What started life as a crowdfunded campaign is turning into a reality, and the technology is already making an enormous difference to communities across the world.
3. NASA’s Foldable Solar Panels
It sounds bizarre, but this concept is based on origami and is the first step to producing portable and flexible panels for a variety of applications. Being produced by NASA you’d expect their primary objective to be for space travel, but this concept could be applied to a range of situations here on Earth.
From travel and vehicles to portable applications in remote areas, this technology will really open up a wealth of possibilities for renewable energy.
4. Solar-Powered Air Conditioning
Why this is a recent development is somewhat bizarre, as air conditioning and strong sun rays go hand in hand – when the sun is strong it’s hot, and when it’s hot we start cranking up the AC at home and at work. Harnessing that energy to power the systems we rely on is a no brainer, and not only can it reduce your home or business running costs but it also lets you bask in a comfortably cool environment guilt-free.
LG are first to the table with their LG AC solar modules, providing a hybrid powering solution for their world-renowned air conditioning systems. The technology isn’t quite there for total solar dependence but it’s a great start and is constantly developing to reduce dependence on mains power.
5. Solar Impulse – Round The World Solar Flights
It’s one we’ve all heard of, hitting the headlines this month as it continues its journey, but Solar Impulse 2 is fast becoming a pioneer for long distance solar-powered travel. The solar powered two-man plane is well underway on its journey to travel the world; this month it touched down in India and will be soon making its way to the US.
More than 700 million tonnes of CO2 are produced each year as a result of air travel and, if this technology is developed to the point of being feasible on a large scale, could make an enormous positive impact on the environment.
To see how our solar products can help transform your home life, generating everything from electricity and heat to power for eco-friendly cars, start your journey by clicking below.