So, as I’m cruising around the Internet researching alternative energy news stories today, I stumbled across one odd solar-powered device in the headlines after another. Some of these photovoltaic devices are rough prototypes delivered by school kids while others are odd solar powered devices that may be used in developing nations.
Summer camp kids at the NOVA School in Olympia, Washington tried their hands at inventing several different kinds of solar-powered devices. My favorites of course, are the solar-powered cheese factory and the solar-powered catapult. And, indeed this catapult wasn’t filled with iron balls or diseased carcasses like those used by Romans or in Medieval times. Perhaps, it was even filled with cheese.
A useful solar-powered device created for use in developing national comes from a German student who was visiting Tanzania two years back. This student came up with the idea for a solar-powered ECG (electrocardiogram) machine that doesn’t rely on electricity and can be used by doctors in remote areas. A few photovoltaic cells mounted on top of the ECG unit and mated to a lead acid battery and it’s good to go.
Another useful device for developing nations is the solar-powered GSM tower. A company called VNL has developed the GSM tower for telecommunication in Africa, which is powered by solar with a 72-hour backup battery also powered by the sun. The solar GSM tower uses up to 1/60 the power of a regular GSM towered plus it has a smaller environmental footprint as well.
If you haven’t heard of any of these solar-powered devices, don’t worry, you will. Solar power is mainstreaming itself at such a rapid pace now it will be under our noses in all sorts of unexpected places before the blink of an eye. And, with a few more blinks from millions of people, solar will no longer be considered alternative energy. It may just be the primary energy source from Main Street to Wall Street to the far corners of the Earth in just a very short time.