3 unconventional uses of solar energy
There is a very good chance you’ve heard the phrase ‘solar power’.
But do you know just how powerful a source of energy the sun is?
In just 1 hour, the amount of energy from the sun that hits the Earth is more than the entire world consumes in a year.
Because of this almost unlimited source of energy, the way we harness the sun’s power has gone from fully utilitarian approaches like saving money; all the way to creative and innovative inventions that utilise solar energy.
With the cost of solar panels declining by approximately 80% since 2008, and the global solar market growing by 41% in 2018, one thing is clear – solar power is here to stay.
With solar power becoming a mainstream source of power, here are 3 unconventional ways that the power of the sun is being used.
1. Solar Powered Lighting
While solar powered lighting may not be the most unconventional use of the sun’s energy, it has become so valuable in 2019 that the concept would have seemed alien a few decades ago.
Typically a solar light consist of an LED lamp, a solar panel or panels, a battery, a solar charge controller and maybe an inverter.
The size of the battery varies according to where and how the lamp is being used with the solar panel(s) being used to charge the battery via the charge controller. Many people mistakenly think that cloudy periods mean a solar powered light is useless however the energy stored in the battery can run the light for many nights even when the sun isn’t shining.
As an additional benefit Solar lamps may also be used for mobile phone charging.
With solar power offering the potential to replace traditional electricity, it isn’t just local councils that can use solar power for lighting, many businesses are also showing interest in solar lighting to reduced energy costs and enable a more sustainable footprint.
According to the business loan team at Max Funding, an Australian small business funding company, businesses have increasingly shown interest in solar-powered gadgets throughout 2019, saying that “environmentally friendly alternatives are growing in popularity. People are willing to pay a premium for it and businesses are starting to ride this wave. This has the flow on effect of helping families and businesses who may actually reduce power bills while making sustainable choices”.
2. Solar Powered Smart Rubbish Bins.
Smart bins provide data for councils and businesses to maximise efficiencies and improve public health. Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are collaborating with Street Furniture Australia and Sydney’s Georges River Council to gather evidence on how smart cities can benefit social health through improved public spaces.
This grant project is funded through the federal government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program and is entitled Smart Social Spaces: Smart Street Furniture Supporting Social Health.
“With bins, there’s already a significant amount of technology available. Sensors inside bins are able to detect how full it is, letting garbage contractors know when they need to pick it up. It can also be fitted with a heat sensor to alert emergency services in case of a fire,” Dr Nancy Marshall, Senior Lecturer in City Planning at UNSW observed.
These solar-powered rubbish compactors can be seen on the streets of big cities including Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Dublin, Hamburg, New York and Stockholm.
Similarly, solar power is being used for other street and garden purposes. According to the team at Cessnock Tank Works, a water tank provider in NSW, solar-powered garden technology is increasing in popularity, saying that “organisations are looking to minimise their carbon footprint. One commonly requested solar device is solar powered water pumps. As this technology advances, equipment becomes even more versatile and will be seen in even more commercial environments”.
3. Solar Powered Cookers
Solar cookers are able to heat, cook or pasteurize food by using direct sunlight.
These devices may seem futuristic, but are relatively cost-effective. With the most advanced models able to prepare food for many people, businesses are now seeing the value – not just to reduce carbon emissions but to save on fuel costs too.
Largely conducted outdoors, solar cooking devices can come in many forms, including curved concentrator cookers, solar ovens and panel cookers.
How do they work?
Curved concentrator cookers rely on a mirrored surface with high reflectivity to concentrate sunlight. This concentrated solar power can produce temperatures high enough to bake and grill/sear.
Investing in solar energy along with other renewable sources is a must to ensure clean and more efficient energy for all.
According to the team at Mark Rogerson Glass, a commercial glass services company, solar panels are an economical way to achieve a modern design, saying that “solar panels give a look similar to tinted glass. More property owners have been requesting solar panels as it’s a goodblend of environmental friendliness and stunning visuals”.
Solar is renewable and for all intents and purposes an endless source of power producing energy for billions of years to come.
There are a wide range of solar power systems available and you can find the right one to fit your energy requirements.
Looking for solar power installation in Gympie, Brisbane or Sunshine Coast? Then contact us today
Victor Clark is a freelance writer. He is a university student based in Sydney. A BusinessAdministration student, Victor is also fond of traveling. When not at his desk, he enjoys becoming a tourist in his own city.