Most people understand that the integrity of the Earth’s atmosphere, terrain, and oceans are being threatened by climate change. This has prompted some energy companies and innovators to come up with creative solutions for generating electricity with solar power. The truth is, fossil fuels are in finite supply and these sources of energy are beginning to struggle to meet the increasing demands of the world’s economies. In addition to the problem of supply meeting demand, there is the fact that the traditional fossil fuels directly harm the atmosphere by releasing greenhouse gases and other pollutants when used. Conversely, solar power is an alternative power source that is clean, simple, affordable, and sustainable.
Since innovations in alternative power sources have made the technology more affordable consumers have been making the shift towards these more efficient options, ranging from choosing to drive all-electric cars to simply swapping out incandescent lights for bulbs with lower wattage or LED lights. It is solar panels, however, that have continued to lead when it comes to providing homes and powering devices with alternative sources of energy. Solar innovations have replaced the older thick and bulky solar panels with thin film solar cells. This has reduced installation costs in solar energy and has broadened the potential uses and placement options for solar power producers. These new solar innovations in solar cells have shown to produce ten times the energy, compared to the conventional rooftop solar panels of yesterday.
The uses for solar panels around the home have become more varied thanks to the new innovations, much of this prompted by thoughts of climate change. These may include placing solar technology on dwellings and other buildings such as sheds and conservatories, (above). Also, there is now a solar powered Logitech Wireless keyboard that does not require batteries or traditional power sources. The keyboard can be powered by sunlight indoors or even by the light from a desk lamp. It is considered to be a “green” accessory. Another innovation is solar windows. These windows are treated with an electricity-generating coating that is transparent and actually converts sunshine into energy. Imagine the Solar Window being installed on all sides of a fifty-story building and the amount of energy that would be generated.
Less Conventional but Creative Uses for Solar Power
1. Camels equipped with solar powered refrigerators are being used in Kenya. Unconventional? Yes, but these camels are being used as mobile health clinics. Certain medicines and vaccinations are required to be kept at certain temperatures and that is difficult in the Kenyan climate. In the hot temperatures of Kenya, the solar-powered refrigerators have the ability to keep these medicines and vaccinations cool as they are being transported to rural communities by doctors, nurses, and aid workers. An international team that included California’s Art Center College of Design, Princeton’s Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, and the Kenya-based Nomadic Communities Trust all collaborated on the design of the crystalline solar-powered miniature refrigeration units. This included coming up with the bamboo camel saddle, which makes it possible for camels to transport the refrigerators over long distances.
(photo credit, designmattersatartcenter.org)
2. Solar-heated ice fishing shacks. The fact that the white snowy surface in the winter boosts the sun’s power makes this option quite viable for those who love to fish through the ice. An existing fishing shack can be insulated and sealed with foil and a heat collector can be constructed from plastic sheets and a bug screen. Cold air can be allowed between the collector and the wall via four holes in the walls. The sun heats the air and then enters the shack through a flapper valve. Even with outside temperatures of below freezing, the comfy fisher-person can enjoy temperatures of up to seventy and even eighty degrees Fahrenheit inside the fish shack.
(photo credit, pocketrangerblog.com)
3. Solar oven cooking is another alternative concept to consider. It involves collecting and trapping heat through the combination of the use of glass and reflective materials. These solar ovens can actually cook food at temperatures of up to 350 degrees with absolutely no fuel use. There are indoor and outdoor versions of these solar ovens and the only real down side is they take longer to warm up than conventional ovens.
(photo credit, solarovenchef.blogspot.com)
4. Solar traffic signs can save communities a great deal of money over a period of time. They are wireless and quite flexible and the LED lighting is environmentally friendly and long lasting. Better still, in a power outage, the signs and lights will continue to work.
(photo credit, traffic-products.net)
5. Solar paint may be something that is not well known, but it is becoming all the rage in certain markets. While there are other paints which may contain toxic materials that can have some negative health affects, solar paint is based on solar cell technology, cleanly formulated to actually harness solar energy and convert it into electrical energy.