Solar power is no longer just about installing photovoltaic panels on existing rooftops to convert a bit of electricity with sunlight. Nowadays, people are finding unique ways to integrate solar energy into architectural, vehicular and even fashion designs from the beginning. Moreover, some innovators have even figured out ways to make structures entirely energy-independent by combining various alternative energy sources.
When solar was first introduced it was an auxiliary power source – now we have cars, boats, planes and even entire buildings that run on solar power. From the world’s first energy-autonomous vehicle to solar balloons, arcs, lily pads and even bras here are some of the most clever contemporary solar designs. These push the existing envelope of solar technology and design ingenuity.
It is hard to say whether the solar bra concept is more geared toward a male of a female audience. The stomach solar panel is perhaps a little less than sexy but supposedly generates enough energy to power a small mobile device such as an MP3 player or a cellular phone. The idea is interesting but the implementation is dubious. After all, who goes outside in only a bra? And what about the unwashability of such a clothing item...?
It has been called everything from Noah’s Eco-Arc to a giant stapler and many things in between. Born of a recall this structure was designed with reuse/recycling as well as alternative energy in mind. Following an unfortunate recall of a huge number of photovalic cells that simply could not be ethically resold Sanyo decided to use them themselves and create an amazing company structure at the same time.
One of the biggest problems, as everyone knows, with solar energy is the difficult off-times when the sun simply won’t shine (at night or during poor weather). To take advantage of even these down times systems like these that use materials (like salt) which store heat for long periods even in the absence of sun seem to be the next stage in solar energy evolution – making the absolute most out of available power and materials. What’s next on the solar horizon? Hard to say but the key elements seem to be: (a) using solar power even without the sun, (b) mixing solar power with other alternative energies and (c) making maximum use of solar power by integrating it with existing structures and vehicles at small and large scales with maximum material, time and cost efficiency.
This first commercial solar power station in Europe is a sight to behold, appearing like an alien object standing out brightly against the flat surrounding landscape. An array of solar panels around the base are used to reflect the sun direct at the giant tower in the middle where, in turn, that heat energy is used to raise the temperature of water piped through the structure. The panels are an awesome site to behold and rotate to track the sun throughout the year.