From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Invisibility of Solar Power

We swim in sunlight and solar power every day and every minute of daylight. We just don't recognize it as btu's, lumens, or watts. We don't count the calories in our solar diet and include no accounting in our energy budget for all the sunlight we already use.

Part and parcel of this invisibility is our inability to see actual working solar when it is right in front of our eyes. Probably the most common solar electric device around your town is the portable electric sign powered by PV panels. It's that orange thing behind the tree.

Can you see the PV panels on this health center in Brookline, MA? Would you recognize it as solar, glancing up from the street or your car window as you passed by?

This is the Porter Square Shopping Center in Cambridge, MA. The story I heard, is that the owners, one of whom was John O'Connor, author of _Who Owns the Sun?_ and an environmental activist, wanted people to see the PV panels so they raised them up on steel girders, an investment more costly than the panels themselves. I always thought they should have included some legend on the steel like "Solar Energy at Work" or "Solar Energy Works!" I think that might be a good idea on other public solar installations too. [The Porter Square Shopping Center has a geothermal heating system in addition to PV solar.]

This is one of those poles with PV panels you can see by the side of many highways. They are monitoring traffic, counting cars, sending congestion alerts. I've seen some powering emergency equipment too. They are all over the place once you recognize them.

This trash container is a solar powered trash compactor. They were invented in Jamaica Plain and Boston is testing out 50 around the city. This one is in Davis Square in Somerville. The first one I saw was on Spectacle Island last summer.

Boston is also trying out solar powered parking meters. As a bicyclist, I think there are still some design issues to be worked out.

Keep your eyes open. At least when the sun is shining.

Cross-posted at dailykos as an entry in my diary there.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Cell Phone Solar: The Video

I wrote about Cell Phone Solar before at solarray and in one of my diaries at dailykos.

What I wrote a few months ago and what I learned in Jamaica is still true:

Cell phones change everything
Cell phone solar with AA/D battery charging is a useful minimum scale
The price point should be $10 American or less

Labels: , , , , , ,