There is a lot of buzz over the feats that can potentially be accomplished by using solar energy: transforming energy consumption patterns worldwide, reducing the carbon footprints of corporate giants, heating residential homes. It is a real alternative to costly and unethical fossil fuels that we have traditionally used to power many of our day-to-day activities. We have all heard of solar panels for home use to improve energy efficiency, but are there other uses of solar power that can benefit consumers on a daily basis? Never before have there been so many innovative ways of harnessing the Sun’s energy. Check out the following five surprising uses of solar power and see just how groundbreaking renewable energy innovations can be.
We all love going to the movies every now and then. However, those enormous cinemas with 30 different rooms, massive screens and blaring speakers equal one mammoth carbon footprint. The Sol Cinema is a mobile movie theatre powered entirely by the sun, and it runs on only four lithium batteries charged by two 120 watt solar panels. The theatre itself is actually made from two old 1960s caravans and can house between 8 and 12 viewers. Although the Sol Cinema may not be ideal for viewing the latest blockbusters, it is perfect for private events and can be delivered to your home within 24 hours.
Green Vending Machine
Several years ago Japan’s Fuji Electric won an award for green innovation when it introduced a moss-covered, solar-powered vending machine. The company claims that the solar panels attached to the top provide sufficient energy to heat and cool the beverages, and that the moss assists in improving insulation while adding a degree of aesthetics to urban environments. Although innovative, interesting, and convenient, the fact still remains that the contents of vending machines – more often than not – end up littering our streets and sidewalks.
We haven’t seen too many solar-powered cars being made available to consumers, but the Solar Impulse, one of the world’s first sun-powered airplanes, is turning heads and generating quite a buzz. Seven years in the making, the solar-powered plane made history when it stayed aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds above Switzerland, shattering the record for longest flight by a piloted solar airplane. Simultaneously it set an altitude record for flying at 30,298 feet. Keep an eye out for the Solar Impulse – it aims to circumnavigate the planet in early 2014.
Solar Doggy Sweater
This device acts like a portable charger that sits on Fido’s back and uses two solar panels that soak up energy from the sun. It can be used to charge your GPS or flashlight on that next hiking adventure. Bigger dogs mean a larger surface space for charging phones and other devices. Great for charging your devices when out and about, or for reducing Fido’s carbon footprint! An interesting use of the Sun’s energy.
Solar Food Carts
In Mexico, some of the best-tasting food can be found on the crowded city streets. Hungry businessman, curious tourists and students flock to stationary taco stands on their lunch breaks. Lines form at the most popular spots. Traditionally, food vendors on the sides of streets utilize charcoal and natural gas to power their grills – and relied heavily on fossil fuels. In Mexico City, the nation’s capital, many vendors are starting to invest in solar-power. Attached to the roof of their carts, the solar panels can crank grill temperatures to above 250°F. Taco lovers can now rest easy knowing their favorite street food is being prepared using nothing but the sun’s rays.