Greenhouse gas emissions and finite fossil fuel resources have provoked one of the most necessary and overdue global movements. And people, governments, and corporations are finally starting to respond accordingly. Our new shared awareness of the environment and the drive toward sustainability have seen a major rise in renewable and clean energy sources.
Solar energy is growing almost exponentially. Reportedly, in the U.S., a building turns to solar every four minutes. While it is indeed a delayed reaction, it’s a welcome one nonetheless. And what is even more welcome is the apparent versatility of solar panels, as demonstrated by a variety of newfound applications.
It’s true: solar panels are popping up in the most unlikely places — and we absolutely love the journey! Would you ever have guessed that you’d find solar panels in these seven places?
Underneath Your Car and Your Feet
Solar panels on roads and pavements? We couldn’t have predicted this application, not least because of the perceived fragility of solar panels. Scott and Julie Brusaw are the founders and creators of Solar Roadways. The project involves hexagonal solar panels, which are robust against vehicles and pedestrians.
Up in the Skies and Down Below
Both planes and airports are the new targets to harness solar energy. Given the hectares of unused space, airports are exploiting this free land by building solar farms. Planes, on the other hand, have slightly less space, but that isn’t stopping Solar Impulse 2.
Related: 2 Swiss pilots (and 1 French one) Are Attempting The Impossible
This airplane is covered in 17,248 solar cells and aims to be the first airplane to complete a round-the-world trip on entirely renewable energy.
Looking Right Over Your Shoulder
Backpacks are functional and practical by nature. They’re synonymous with camping and general unglamorous, outdoorsy activities — so we’re not that surprised to see the emergence of solar technology here. Regardless, it’s still pretty cool — some backpacks in this new niche can generate 3.4 Watts of power to then charge your handheld electronic devices.
At the End of Your Bad Habit
That’s right —it’s a solar-powered lighter. While we don’t advocate smoking, this handy accessory is perfect for camping trips or other activities and hobbies that take you out of civilization.
At Your Neighbor’s BBQ
Isn’t a robotic sun shade just what you’ve always wanted? It’s a worldwide first: an automated sun shade that monitors the sun throughout the day and then illuminates your garden in the evening.
Related: Best Solar Garden Lights
Solar panels are, of course, associated with the sun — and in this example, the solar technology could easily be applied to a sun umbrella. However, these panels and their associated accessories are now designed to withstand all sorts of weather and other conditions they would otherwise have never been suitable for before.
Keeping Your Modesty Intact
Clothing! Wearable technology is already on everyone’s minds and now solar panels have made their move here, as well. In 2016, it was revealed that miniscule solar panels could actually be stitched into clothes for the first time. Previously, the only wearable solar panel came in the form of hard plastic on a watch, for example.
In the Trash
Trashcans are not only solar-powered now, but they can also talk! Trashcans harness the power of the sun in order to power their communication requirements. Using Wi-Fi, when trash cans are full, they let waste management organizations know, thereby reducing collection costs by up to seventy-five percent.
Renewable energy keeps on growing in popularity. Solar energy is not only making our lives far easier and more accessible, but it’s also saving the planet! Hopefully, solar panels will continue to pop up in the most unlikely places.