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Creative applications of solar energy in public spaces – OneStep.Solar

2024-05-22

Creative Applications of Solar Energy in Public Spaces

Beyond the traditional use of solar energy, increasingly creative approaches are required in public spaces to achieve the self-imposed goals of the energy transition. Initially, solar installations were confined to rooftops, followed by façades contributing to energy generation. Now, the next step is exploring additional applications and locations for deployment.

A significant shift in public thinking is the willingness to move away from fossil fuels. This shift is helpful because it directs focus towards constructive discussions and eliminates those that are unproductive. Furthermore, this focus prevents the need to operate multiple systems concurrently, such as in the automotive industry, where resources devoted to developing internal combustion engines could detract from advancements in electrical technology, thereby slowing progress.

Another boost in the development of electric-powered systems comes from advancements in battery storage technology, which benefits other sectors through research efforts initially intended for the automotive industry.

Innovations in Solar Street Lighting

Traditional street lighting is connected to an electrical grid and powered centrally. However, the aforementioned developments now allow for decentralized street lighting. This means that lighting is possible even in remote locations, secluded roads, or parks, independent of the electrical grid. Solar street lamps are equipped with a solar panel, battery storage, energy-saving LED lights, and a control unit that regulates the lighting. These street lamps are designed to store enough energy during days of weak daylight to function for several days, which is particularly important during winter. For city and municipal budgets, solar street lighting is especially attractive because it enhances safety and is comparatively inexpensive to purchase and operate. Solar street lighting is among the innovations that have become established and are now used in many places.

Solar Water Purification Systems for Communities

Despite higher initial investments, solar water purification systems for communities are significantly cheaper than conventional systems in the long run. They are not only more cost-effective but also more environmentally friendly because the energy used is sustainable and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Interestingly, these systems can continue to operate during public power grid failures.

Integration of Solar Technology in Public Art

Solar technology in public art is a relatively new field. Artists are finding various ways to use their art to raise awareness about sustainability. For instance, artist Katrin Sasse has succeeded in applying images to solar panels using a special film and publicly displaying them. The twist is that the art is not only visually appealing but also generates electricity. In this context, art serves as a pioneer, stimulating further developments. Especially in façade design, there are now many ways to aesthetically utilize solar energy, which is also beneficial from a design perspective for buildings.

Solar Energy in Urban Planning: Green Parks and Plazas

Urban planning has long outgrown the initial experimental phase regarding the integration of solar energy. Green solar projects are now an integral part of urban planning, just as hardly any residential building is planned today without a solar installation. With the increasing effects of climate change, the urgency to adapt cities to changed conditions and prepare for worse scenarios is becoming clearer. It is urgently necessary to satisfy the energy demands of cities through local projects. Numerous projects are already underway.

Case Studies: Successful Solar Projects in Public Spaces

The projects include, for example, solar-paneled bike paths, parking lots, or pedestrian zones. Green roofs are also part of the repertoire of modern cities in combination with rooftop solar installations. To name a few specific examples that are representative of similar projects, consider the covered solar charging station at Merklingen station in Baden-Württemberg or the solar benches in Stuttgart with connections to charge mobile phones or tablets. Another completed project is the solar-paneled bike path at the Freiburg fair, which is covered for 300 meters. These and many other examples show that we can expect many more innovative solutions in the area of solar energy in public spaces in the future.

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