Solar power is beginning to change the lives of millions throughout the world, creating sustainable, green energy sources everywhere from Colorado to Shanghai. Using solar panels to power your home is a well-established practice, but what else are trailblazers throughout the world using this revolutionary renewable energy source for?
Here is but a small sampling of the interesting projects happening across the world right now being propelled by solar power.
Solar Powered Ice Cream Carts
Want to keep your frozen treats cool without hurting the environment?
Dutch design company Springtime has just the solution: their solar-powered ice cream cart has a panel attached to its roof to allow it to charge the batteries that power the cart. The cart keeps the ice cream inside cool without producing CFCs and emissions, making its wares the ultimate eco-conscious treat.
Travel by Sea with Free Solar Power
The Tûranor PlanetSolar is a catamaran that runs solely on solar power and, with the ability to open up to expose nearly 540 m2 of solar panels to the sun’s rays, it’s the world’s largest solar-powered boat. The Tûranor PlanetSolar is currently undertaking a round-the-world trip which, once completed, will be the first of its kind ever undertaken by a solar-powered vessel.
Roasting Coffee with Solar Power
If you want coffee that’s eco-aware as well as delicious, you need look no further than Solar Roast Coffee. Set up by brothers Michael and David Hartkop, Solar Roast Coffee is home to the world’s only commercial solar-powered coffee roaster. Capable of producing 30 pounds of coffee in just 20 minutes, their Helios coffee roaster utilizes a movable wall of mirrors which draws sunlight onto a receiver box, which heats air to several hundred degrees which is then ducted into the roaster. In addition to this, Solar Roast Coffee runs their café and a mobile coffee shop on solar power alone.
Keeping Bees Making Honey
You know how difficult it can be to keep working when it’s the heat of summer and the air conditioning is broken? Well, humans aren’t the only ones who have trouble concentrating in the sun – bees’ productivity also suffers when the heat is on. When it gets too hot, the bees sink to the bottom of the hive and beat their wings, creating a living air-conditioning system for the hive: this brings honey production to a halt. A new solar-powered cooler from hive-owner Mark Thompson automatically turns fans on once the temperature of the hive hits a preset number, allowing the bees to carry on making honey.
Bringing the Internet to Rural Africa
Africa is a colossal continent and getting internet to some of its more rural spots can be a logistical nightmare – especially during disasters. The ZubaBox from the charity Computer Aid is a mobile internet café tucked inside an old shipping container. Fitted with a computer and 11 monitors, the ZubaBox is powered by solar panels on its roof. It might not lookllike much, but the ZubaBox’s main aim -to provide internet access to rural communities – reduces poverty by allowing farmers to access local weather forecasts and adjust their farming schedules and by giving access to learning resources to the community’s children.
Jessica is a renewable energy and conservation enthusiast. She currently writes about energy saving tips and solar power for home and business for Solar Contact.