We know about using solar panels to power our homes and businesses—not to mention continuous advances in solar modules happening all the time—but take a look at some of these amazing and innovative other uses of solar. Tell us what you think in the comments!
7. Transparent Solar Windows
The Sharp Electronics Corporation in Japan recently started selling see-through solar panels for windows. The windows act as a natural light filter and heat shield while also generating a maximum power output of 95W. The product is currently only available in Japan with no set price as of yet, but you can get more info on the product here.
6. Solar Stadium
Instead of draining massive resources, this first-of-its-kind stadium in Taiwan actually generates power. The 14,155 sq meter solar roof provides enough electricity to light all 3,300 lights and two jumbo video screens. When the stadium is not being used, the surplus energy is sold and fed into the local grid, covering roughly 80% of the surrounding area’s energy needs. [Source: Inhabit, Wikipedia]
5. Solar Art
Solar art installations are nothing new, but it’s always inspiring to see the more eclectic ones. In Austin, Texas, giant solar sunflowers soak up the sun’s rays during the day to powert its neon blue LEDs at night. The sculptures also illuminate the path below for bikers and walkers. In Toronto, the Sarah Hall Studio creates site-specific installations of glass embedded with photovoltaic cells to provide a visual impact of renewable power generation. [Solar sunflower photos by David Newsom]
4. Nano solar paint
What if a coat of paint could convert light energy into electricity? That’s what a team of University of Notre Dame researchers are trying to solve with their “Sunbelievable” paint technology. Semiconducting nano-particles within the paint produce small amounts of electricity that researchers hope to magnify to power appliances in the home.
3. Solar trash cans
Picture the life of a city trash can: filling up daily with often large and clunky items, which workers have to manually empty on a regular basis. Now picture a solar-power waste bin that uses its power to compact the trash, reducing collection frequency by 80%, freeing up resources, slashing fuel costs and increasing recycling opportunities. To top it off, each receptacle is equipped with a sensor which informs city hall by text message when it’s full to capacity.
2. Solar airplane
The Solar Impulse team is on a mission to pioneer clean flight technology for humanity’s future. Their futuristic solar aircraft, comprised of over 12,000 solar panels is capable of flight in day and night. Their current quest is to complete a flight around the world.
1. Solar toilet
One rather unconventional but extremely helpful invention is the solar toilet, which is expected to better the lives of millions of people in third-world countries who are plagued with poor sanitation. Running on solar power, the toilet—which recently won the Bill Gates Reinvent the Toilet Challenge—resuses water and turns human waste into fertilizer for crops and hydrogen that can be used as a backup energy source.