7 Applications of Solar Energy

Imagine a world where your morning coffee is brewed by the sun. No, it’s not a scene from a science fiction novel – it’s 2024, and solar energy has transitioned from a buzzword to the backbone of technological advancements.

Solar City

Why solar, you ask? With global energy consumption on the rise, the sun offers an inexhaustible, clean source that’s kinder to our planet. In fact, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports a stunning increase in solar capacity and predicts that solar power could meet up to a third of the world’s energy needs by 2050. This isn’t just good news for the environment, it’s a game-changer for the tech industry, slashing operating costs and carbon footprints in one fell swoop.

Ready for the bright points? Here are 7 applications of solar energy that are shaping our world.

1 | SOLAR-POWERED SMART CITIES

Our urban landscapes are getting a green makeover. Cities around the world are using solar energy to power everything from streetlights to public transportation. Take Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, for example. This is the world’s first net-zero green city project being developed in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Masdar City-1

Designed to run entirely on solar power and other renewable energy sources, it will be the world’s first example of an eco-city.  Started in 2006, the project is expected to be completed by 2030.

Eco-facts about Masdar City

Masdar City-2
  • The city has a 21-hectare field of 87,777 solar panels installed throughout the city.
  • There will be no electrical switches or water taps in the city. Instead, motion sensors will perform these functions, saving about 50% of the energy and resources as envisioned by the city’s planners.
  • Streets will maintain a temperature of about 15-20°C, thanks to a 46-meter wind tower that draws cool air from above and releases it into the city’s streets.
  • The amount of sunlight is reduced because the houses are built very close to each other.
  • The city is isolated from the hot winds and sands of the surrounding desert by  surrounding it with terracotta walls.
  • The cityscape is designed without cars, with Jetsons-style unmanned electric vehicles shuttling passengers between buildings.

The city is still under construction, but as Chris Wang, Masdar’s Director of sustainability, said, “Masdar is part of an evolutionary process,” and as far as we know, evolution takes time.

2 | Solar-Powered Smart Homes

From Smart Cities to Smart Homes, which are getting even smarter by using the sun. From solar roof tiles that blend in with traditional roofing to gardens illuminated by solar LED lights, renewable energy is making homes more efficient and autonomous. This integration extends to smart home systems that optimize energy use by adjusting lighting, heating, and cooling based on real-time solar input, showcasing a seamless marriage between technology and sustainability.

Tesla Solar Roof

Unlike traditional solar panels, these tiles are designed to look like regular roof tiles, but contain solar cells to generate electricity. This integration allows homeowners to generate solar power without the aesthetic disruption of traditional solar panels. 

Tesla Roof
Tesla Powerwall

The Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed for home energy storage. It stores electricity generated by solar panels and provides power to the home when needed.

Tesla’s Solar Roof and Powerwall are designed to work seamlessly together, and they also integrate well with other Tesla products and the broader smart home ecosystem. Homeowners can use the Tesla app to monitor their energy production and consumption in real time, and optimize energy use based on their needs and preferences.

Solar Garden Lights 

Outdoor solar lights are a great alternative to mains powered outdoor lights with many benefits. Solar-powered lights are both simpler and safer to install as you have the freedom to place your lights wherever you want without the need of having to plug into an electrical outlet. Solar lights are also environmentally friendly and are completely free to run!

3 | Solar-powered wearables

Solar energy is also finding its way into wearable tech, such as solar-powered smartwatches.
Garmin, an American multinational technology company specializing in GPS technology for automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor and sports activities, has developed solar-powered smartwatches.

Garmin Solar Watches

Solar power is not the primary charging source for these watches – it extends battery life. The idea is to give you more time to exercise and do your favorite activities without worrying about battery life. And if you forget to charge the watch before you go on an adventure and it runs out of power, you can just leave it out in the sun and it will turn back on.

The solar panel, which sits on top of the device’s screen, converts the sun’s rays into energy, which in turn extends battery life. And although the solar panel covers the entire surface of the dial, it’s transparent – so you won’t even know that the smart watch has a solar panel. 
This technology not only demonstrates innovation in wearable technology, but also reflects a commitment to sustainable energy use in personal electronics.

4 | Portable Solar Chargers

The age of searching for a power outlet is over. Portable solar chargers have become a must-have gadget that allows you to power your devices on the go.

The solar panel on the device absorbs sunlight and converts it into electricity, which is then transferred to your device via a USB cable.
Portable solar chargers are ideal for people who are often on the move or outdoors where there is no way to charge their devices. They can also be useful for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint by charging their devices from the sun rather than the power grid.
On the downside, portable solar chargers may not always provide enough power to charge your device quickly, and they can also be quite bulky and heavy for some devices. In addition, charging efficiency may depend on weather conditions and location.

5 | Solar-Powered Charging Benches
Solar Bench

If you forget your portable solar charger, no worries – you can charge your device at solar-powered benches in public parks and streets. This reality is taking shape in cities like Boston, London, Copenhagen, Singapore, and others, where these benches offer free, green power to the public.

Depending on the company that created the bench, it can typically charge smartphones, tablets, e-readers, portable music players, wearable devices, and more.
Devices can be charged using a USB cable or by placing them on the charging pad built into the bench itself.

6 | Solar-Powered Charging Stations

The next big thing in solar charging is solar-powered stations for charging electric vehicles (EVs), such as e-bikes, e-cars, and others. Let’s take a look at some examples of charging stations.

E-bike charging station

HBT CHARMAX is an e-bike charging station manufactured by Austrian HBT Energy.
Photovoltaic panels on the roof of the station generate energy that can either be used immediately or stored in the batteries. HBT CHARMAX can charge up to 4 e-bikes simultaneously. 

HBT-Charmax

The station can also serve as a meeting point, and since it has a WIFI access point, the charging time can be used to surf the Internet or explore bike routes. HBT CHARMAX can also be equipped with:

  • Weatherproof and shatterproof security cameras – for optimal surveillance for day and night vision, especially in public spaces.
  • Lockers – for safe storage of bicycle helmets and other items, and for charging your smartphones and tablets via a built-in USB socket
  • Touch screen that can serve as an information point
  • Seating options

E-car charging station 

Another charging station, EV ARC™ 2020, is manufactured at Beams Global in San Diego, California, to charge electric cars.

EV Solar Station

Each station also generates and stores its own electricity to provide clean, renewable energy for the EV. A single Beam EV charger can provide 426 kilometers of charging per day under optimal conditions.

The stations are fully solar-powered, flood-resistant and designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 190 kilometers per hour. 
EV ARC™ 2020 stations require no construction or electrical work, so no permits are required for installation. Stationary yet transportable, these stations are also used after natural disasters to provide power to remote areas.

Watch Beam’s solar-powered station deployment in action:

7 | Solar Energy in Gaming

Even the gaming industry is going solar. Portable gaming devices that can recharge themselves while you play outside are no longer a dream. 
Researchers at Northwestern University and Delft University of Technology have developed ENGAGE (energy aware gaming platform), a battery-free Game Boy that runs on solar power. It charges in two ways:

  1. By pressing buttons while playing – by moving a small but powerful magnet inside a tightly wound coil of wire.
  2. By solar energy – thanks to the built-in solar panels around the device’s screen.

The device can also get the energy from both sources at the same time.

Although you can’t buy a battery-free Game Boy, you can build one! ENGAGE is a research platform that proves that sustainable smart devices are possible, useful, and even fun. And all the designs, hardware, and code to build your own ENGAGE are publicly available for free and open source on Github.

Final thoughts

The Future is bright. By using solar power, we’re not only conserving precious resources, we’re igniting a wave of creativity and innovation across industries and paving a path to a cleaner, greener planet. 

Imagine cities where every rooftop, from homes to high-rises, converts sunlight into energy, making communities more sustainable and resilient. That’s the power of solar energy – it’s abundant, renewable, and significantly reduces our carbon footprint. By choosing solar, we’re not just lighting up our homes, we’re investing in the health of our planet, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come. So why wouldn’t we make the most of it?

Altabel Group has extensive experience in providing software development services in the field of solar energy and other renewable energy sources. With our company, you will discover innovative ways to make your projects not only tech-savvy, but also eco-friendly.

If you have any renewable energy ideas, share them with us and we will create digital solutions that will turn your ideas into sustainable technology products. Let’s illuminate the path to sustainability together!

Remember, the Future is not only bright – it’s solar-powered! ☀️🌍