Over the last decade, the number of electronic gadgets in use across the globe has risen dramatically. With the growth of the personal electronics segment, the demand for electricity is growing at an unprecedented rate. However, since the infrastructure that produces and distributes electricity, called the grid, cannot be upgraded at the same rate at which the demand for the electricity is increasing, alternative methods of electricity generation are being investigated. Since around a third of the electricity produced is lost in transmission. This additional dependence on fossil fuels too can be lessened if more sustainable methods of electricity production like solar power are made more accessible to the public.
The Solar Pump is an innovative concept designed for public spaces by Sol Design Lab. Just like a petrol station allows users to refill their cars when they are running short of fuel, the Solar Pump can serve as a place where people can quickly charge their cellphones, iPads, laptops and other portable electronic gizmos while hanging out in a public spot like a beach. With PV panels installed at the top of the canopy, the pump is able to generate enough electricity to charge a handful of gadgets.
A professor of architecture at MIT Sheila Kennedy has been investigating the use of solar panels embedded in everyday objects and materials, and the MIT SOFT Rockers concept is the culmination of her research work in the field. The basic principle behind the public space seating concept is to make solar panel fitted installations look as aesthetic as possible. A 35 watt solar tracking system combined with an interactive 1.5 axis allows the 12 amp battery to harvest and store electricity when the sun is up. This allows users to simply plug their USB chargers into the electrical outlets installed in the rocker to charge their gadgets at any time of the day.
One of the more practicable solutions for people looking to go off the grid, the Solar Dok is basically a high tech sunshade with PV panels installed on top. The Dok comes with 110 VAC GFCI power outlets that allow users to power and recharge virtually all of their portable electrical gadgets via a USB Type A port. The Dok offers users a reading of power levels via a charge controller and a digital readout. A low powered, high intensity 700 lumen LED lighting system too has been installed to keep it illuminated at night.
Designed by industrial designer Brian Borja, the Flower Power Battery Charger draws on the form of a sunflower to ensure that the photovoltaic panels hidden away in its petals receive maximum amount of sunlight during the daytime. The PV panels feed a battery hidden away in the bud, which can be removed when required. When the sun sets, the petals of the Flower Power Battery Charger automatically close until next sunrise to protect the PV panels.
Gotwind’s Street Charger is a wonderful new initiative that seeks to provide solar power for charging of cellphones and other gadgets in remote areas of third world countries. Fashioned like a cart, the installation allows up to 20 cellphones to be charged simultaneously and can supply power for up to 20 hours per charge. Since it takes over 44 hours of sunlight to charge the Street Charger’s battery fully, the cart also comes fitted with two 110 A/h internal batteries that serve as backup power. Using a 60 watt solar panel, this version of the charger operates at 12 volts though they are hoping to improve its efficiency further.
This 14 foot tall aluminum sunflower sculpture is actually a handy solar power generator created by artist David Edwards. Using a petal powered wind turbine in combination with power harnessed by the solar panels that are embedded within the leaves, the Power Flowers installation stores electricity in batteries, which can be later used to charge phones and other gadgets. It also powers the LED lighting that illuminates the sculpture at night.
Made using acrylic sheets, metal clamps, steel pipes and sheet metal, the Solar Mobile Charging Kiosks concept by industrial designer Vino Jose, seeks to allow people to charge their cellphones via solar energy while they are out in public. The kiosk has a few dedicated shelves where users can place their cellphones while they charge, which allows many people to use the chargers at the same time.