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.
The list of ten most innovative solar powered designs is as follows.
1. Power, water and food in the desert
This incredibly ambitious green design project aims to turn the Sahara Desert – one of the most notoriously inhospitable environments on Earth – into a lush green paradise. Concentrated solar power is used to generate energy for the complex and to evaporate seawater to use in greenhouses (as opposed to depleting freshwater sources). However, this is not a self-contained system – extra distilled freshwater and nutrients from the seawater as well as conditioned air will be released to create adjacent exterior micro climates more conducive to growing even in the outdoors, slowly changing the whole ecosystem back to something it hasn’t resembled for thousands of years and that can provide food, water and power in one of the most environmentally foreboding places on the planet.
2. School powering solar shade system
While some solar innovations occur at grandiose scales, many smaller design steps can cumulatively make a gigantic impact as well. These clever solar shades serve multiple purposes at once by providing shade for students as well as power for their school. Moreover, they can be rotated manually throughout the day to provide maximum shade while simultaneously gathering the most energy – a win-win situation for students and administrators alike.
3. Sassy solar powered bra design
It is hard to say whether the solar bra concept is more geared toward a male or a female audience. The stomach solar panel is perhaps a little less 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.
4. Creative DIY solar cooker designs
For solar do-it-yourself there is nothing quite like the classic solar cooker, applied in everything from emergency situations and developing nations to good old fashioned backyard barbeques. Best of all, some websites provide detailed user-submitted plans so you can choose one based on style, size and function and create it in the comfort of your own home.
5. Floating solar collecting lily pads
Aesthetic integration is one of the core challenges of introducing alternative energy designs into an urban environment. How do you layer on solar panels, for example, without making them stand out as something foreign, additive and unattractive? One clever solution is the above solar energy ‘lily pads’ that truly keep the design element in mind – creating something visually engaging, a new layer on a lazy city river, while also generating a new source of alternative urban power.
6. Floating energy collecting solar balloons
Sometimes one of the easiest solutions available is also the best. This incredibly simple design powerfully addresses classic problems of solar energy collection. It is very low impact, using minimum materials to harness the energy of the sun. It is spatially liberated, with floating elements that could essentially be added anywhere (urban or rural and in residential or emergency situations) without taking up any real estate or requiring excessive space or time to ship.
7. Canelievered solar power arc design
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 photovoltaic cells that simply could not be ethically resold Sanyo decided to use them themselves and create an amazing company structure at the same time.
8. Creative solar powered ferry design
In a sleek, elegant and ingenious combination of solar and wind style and innovation this solar-powered ferry has fins that automatically adjust not only catch capture maximum rays from the sun but also to get the most out of available wind power possible – a great two-for-one public transit alternative energy solution.
9. Solar energy concentrating power station
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, 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.
10. World’s first solar powered car design
There are plenty of snazzy super futuristic solar powered vehicles out there but where did the trend start? An Englishman in the late 1970s came up with this homely little hot-rod – supposedly the first truly solar powered vehicle and a DIY job at that – though concept models date back to GM in the 50s.