While solar technology has been merely considered a thing of the future, today, the cutting-edge technology is more attainable in residential, commercial and industrial settings. Not only is solar energy a clean and renewable resource, but it's also becoming more affordable. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) even explains that the cost to install solar has decreased by more than 73% since 2006 – and these installations aren't just happening on your local rooftops. In the United States and across the globe, solar power is being utilized in fascinating ways. In some cases, you might not even realize solar power generation is happening around you! Researchers are coming up with efficient and innovative ways to harness solar energy around the world. Take a look at some of the latest solar technological advances within the industry.
The Classroom in a Box has been installed in more than 180 rural schools in 10 developing countries and is compact enough to fit in the back of a pickup truck.
Aleutia's solar classroom
Aleutia, a London-based technology firm, is transforming education in off-grid and developing countries with its latest product, Classroom in a Box. The box includes essential items for a complete solar installation: photovoltaic (PV) panels, batteries, cables, inverters and charge controllers. It also comes with computers, monitors and projectors designed to function despite any server failures or harsh climate conditions that might arise. It's quick and easy to install too. Rather than calling a solar expert to install the system, a local handyman can do the job in just one day! Through this solar-powered educational opportunity, developing countries have the ability to further enrich, empower and encourage students who may not normally have access to such advanced technological learning resources.
To put this in terms for Londoners, the solar panels on Blackfriars Bridge generate enough electricity to make about 80,000 cups of tea each day.
Londoners have traveled Blackfriars Bridge across the River Thames since 1886. Unlike other bridges, Blackfriars also operates as a railway station. In 2009, First Capital Connect and Network Rail came to Solarcentury with the idea to add a roof covered with solar panels to the bridge. The roof now has 4,400 solar panels – enough to cover 23 tennis courts. Even in a city famously known for its gray skies and rainy days, the solar panels still harness enough electricity to power 333 houses all year. Solarcentury estimates the solar panels provide 50% of the railway station's energy. In the future, we might see solar technology more frequently when it comes to transportation infrastructure. For more information, read about the future of solar roadways.
Bigbelly trash cans are now available in 47 countries around the world, so look for them in your neighborhood!
Bigbelly trash cans
Bigbelly trash cans are using solar power to improve our waste and recycling programs. Some cities were collecting trash too often – wasting fuel and labor, while also creating carbon dioxide emissions. Others were not collecting frequently enough, and the overflowing trash cans created litter and health issues. The solution? Bigbelly trash cans. These devices use power from solar panels to send real-time communication about trash volume, collection and efficiency to a database. Bigbelly trash cans hold five times as much waste as an average trash can, and they are fully enclosed, eliminating litter and problems with critters.
Solar-powered technology is advancing quickly, so be sure to keep up with its current developments. If you haven't already, you may see it in your neighborhood sooner than you think!