Welcome to our monthly installment of Solar Everywhere, a brief roundup of where solar is appearing when it’s not on your roof and not in a gadget — we draw the line at solar gadgets (though we reserve the right to change our mind if the right solar gadget comes along). This month brings us an interesting range of solar applications, from a solar bicycle to a floating solar system to solar for the developing world.
Without further ado, let’s jump in:
The solar pedi-bike: Rhoades Car, makers of four-wheeled, multi-passenger pedi-bikes, has just released two new models: the SOLARped and the SOLARide, sit-down bikes that can carry anywhere from one to four passengers and feature a roof-mounted solar panel to help you cruise along the road. The SOLARped is a seven-speed (or 42-speed, if you live in a hilly region) bike that features a 190-watt solar panel and a 750-watt pedal-assist motor. It retails for almost $7,000, so it’s not for the faint of heart, but you could certainly take the family out for an epic Sunday ride in one of these…
A taxpayer-funded solar backpack: Cleantechnica points us to the Enerplex Packr, a backpack featuring a 3-watt solar panel. Developed in part with funding from NREL (which we as taxpayers fund), it’s great to see these cutting-edge research programs result in tangible, if pricey, goods (the EnerPlex Packr retails for $99).
SolarWindow to see the light of day: New Energy Technologies, Inc., just announced that it is about to bring it’s new, see-through solar window technology to market this year. The SolarWindow, a new building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) product, is just one of the company’s applications for its electricity-generating coatings, which the company says is a see-through coating that can be applied to glass, flexible plastics, and even airplane fuselages, will soon hit the market and be available for integrating into a building (or plane) near you.
Solar parking canopy: Around certain parts of the country, a solar parking canopy is no big deal — if I bike for 15 minutes from my house in the East Bay, I can pass under at least three different canopies — but NRG Solar is rolling out a new wrinkle on the solar canopy: a freestanding, modular, grid-connected or off-grid solar canopy. The idea is that something as simple as a parking structure or shelter can provide enough energy to offset some of the energy used by a home (or more likely, a business), but could also include a battery system for providing off-peak or even emergency backup power.
Solar-powered light bulbs: Moving on from the fairly Western-consumer-focused aspects of this month’s solar roundup, Silvio Marcacci at the Energy Collective offers us a look at the Nokero, a solar-powered light bulb that is designed to end the reliance on kerosene lamps in the developing world. The company makes three light bulbs that range in price from $6 to $45, about which Marcacci writes: “Over 10 years, one solar lantern could replace 600 liters of kerosene and cut 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions, while solar lighting could save up to $800 million in avoided fuel purchases.”
Solar water pump: In another move targeting the power of solar to provide leapfrogging technologies for the developing world, SunEdison has just announced the launch of its solar-powered water pumps, large-scale systems designed to help farmers in India provide more regular watering to their crops, as well as grow crops in fields that they currently could not reach with irrigation.
Floating solar power plant: Last but not least, Vice Magazine points us to a new solar power plant currently under construction in Switzerland that consists of three floating islands on Lake Neuchâtel, each holding 100 solar panels. The islands will also be able to rotate 220 degrees to track the sun, and boast a generating capacity of 33 kilowatts. The CEO of Nolaris, the company behind the solar islands, believes that a solar island a mile across could generate 190 megawatts of power.
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