Tuesday, February 9, 2010

NYT Article: Making Solar Power Portable

(Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program)
Straight to the Source

The solar panel(s) in the above image looks a little big- especially for everyday use, but I have often thought of getting one of those smaller ones for my phone. I think they are pretty cool. I just liked this article and wanted to share. Glad to see solar being used more and more. Below is a clipping from the article.

With limited recharging options available, “it was really frustrating,” he said. “Having access to a working port or finding an open plug during layovers at the airport was just too unpredictable.”

Hoping to solve his problem, Mr. Smith bought a portable solar charger he could prop up in the window of a plane. “I’d plug it into my phone and when we landed, I was ready to go again.” The charger meshed well with his environmental values, of course. Still, “when I first started using solar to charge my devices,” he said, “it was out of convenience.”

In fact, Mr. Smith is one of a growing number of business travelers who, out of practicality or concern for the environment, use portable renewable energy devices — primarily portable solar panels, but also hand-cranked electricity generators known as dynamos or freeplay devices — to power up their electronics when they work in places that offer little or no access to electricity.

“Basically, this technology makes our work possible,” said John Poulsen, a tropical ecologist who investigates logging’s effects on animal populations in the forests of central Africa. Often, data collection takes Mr. Poulsen as much as 25 miles from the nearest road. “The research we do requires being in the forest for two to three weeks at a time. And if we had to go back to the village every two or three days for batteries, we just couldn’t do it,” he said.

Generally speaking, portable renewable energy devices cannot power large equipment, like desktop computers or printers. But they can generate enough electricity to operate laptops, satellite telephones, movie and still cameras, sound-recording equipment, GPS equipment and camp lighting, said Stuart Cody, owner of Automated Media Systems in Allston, Mass. The company customizes portable solar arrays and battery backup systems for business travelers and adventurers.

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