One of the knock on effects that loadshedding had in South Africa was to elucidate to us the concept that every little bit counts. Every single person who attempted to lower his or her Eskom usage by utilising solar helped towards the goal of no load shedding. In the process, the amount of information and knowledge that was forthcoming with regards to solar energy and renewable energy was incredible, and the Eskom problem became less and less, as people strove to get themselves in a position where they were almost off the clutches of Eskom. It was a prime example of the spirit of South Africans, to fight against enslavement to The Man, and maintain a semblance of independence and dignity as everything starts failing around you.
The revolution continues.
Some of these ideas, while not new, are not yet fully practical, and it will take sometime before they become the norm. They will however be utilized and be part of the system some time in the future. Energy from the sun is free, and there a multitude of ways to extract this energy.
The Liter Of Light.
With a 2 liter plastic bottle, some distilled water and some bleach one can make a cheap solar light. During daytime the water inside the bottle refracts sunlight, delivering about as much light as a 40–60 watt incandescent bulb to the interior. A properly installed solar bottle can last up to 5 years. Check out the installation video here.
Solar Cell Phone Chargers.
Quite simply, this is a photovoltaic panel small enough to carry in your pocket, and powerful enough to charge your phone. Apple alone sold a staggering 75 Million phones in the first quarter of 2015.
Imagine if it was compulsory for every mobile phone in the world to be solar receptive and to be sold with a solar charger? The amount of immediate energy usage reduction that would occur is mind-boggling.
Surf and lifestyle brand O’Neill have a few jackets in their range that have small panels built in, to charge iPods and phones etc, and Tommy Hilfiger obviously designed some ludicrous designer solar panel tops for a fashion show recently, but it is part of our solar future, and not yet a big part of energy reduction and renewable energy systems. With the rise of smart watches and other wearables, we are starting to live in the world of Dick Tracy however, and solar jackets are next on the list.
O’Neill has some functional solar-paneled jackets in the market space already, and they are popular amongst climbers, and off-piste skiers and snowboarders amongst other outdoors people. While hiking, the jacket can charge cellphones, cameras, iPods and remote Bluetooth speakers, radios and smart watches, and their popularity is rising. There has been some advancement in solar schoolbag development, with underprivileged school kids being supplied with solar backpacks, in order to have enough energy to light their houses and do schoolwork. While this doesn’t take away from the grid, as these people are not connected to the grid, is does eradicate their immediate need for energy and paying for it.
It won’t take that long, in the grander scheme of things. The solar revolution will happen overnight.