11 Examples of Solar in Unusual Places

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Written by Sowdamini Pogaru

May 2, 2019 • 3 min read


Familiar with solar-powered watches and calculators, panels that cover rooftops to power buildings, and even power banks? With photovoltaics, any surface under the Sun can utilise its energy. Solar is no longer limited to just vast stretches of arid land. Even the most unlikely places, right from golf courses to parkas and bike paths can now harness solar energy.

Here’s our list of solar in unusual places.

Selvamma, Bengaluru, India

roadside solar for corn roasting

From namma home-turf, we have Selvamma who was given a solar powered fan by Selco Foundation. She gained instant-fame and the name “Solar Amma” for using the solar powered fan to roast corn; reducing the coal consumption, adverse health issues, and physical effort. Environment-friendly and time-saving? That’s a win-win!

Solar Parkas

pocket solar parkas

You don’t need to search for power charging points when you are on the go; you could be wearing it! Fashion designer Pauline van Dogen designed Solar Parkas with long and broad hip pockets which serve as portable solar panels that can charge your smartphone within a couple of hours.

Solar Carports

solar carport

You have seen canopies in parking areas, but have you ever come across solar canopies that add more than just shade? Across different parts in the world, especially in the US, solar carports have sprung up to generate renewable energy and to reduce the urban heat island effect.

Abandoned Golf Courses

solar panels in golf course
A golf course turned into solar farm in Kyocera Corporation, Japan

Recently, many golf courses are going obsolete because of the dwindling interest in golf. The large area exposed to the Sun and just a small flock of shade trees make them perfect candidates for solar power.          

Solar Roadways

solar panel driveway
The “Solar Roadways” company, Idaho, USA

An Idaho couple has aspired that the world’s energy future can bank on highways made of solar panels that replaced conventional asphalt. Though this is still in the works, other versions of solar roadways have popped up in different parts of the world.

cycling on solar road

For instance, in Amsterdam, a 100-meter bike path “SolaRoad”, covered partly in photovoltaic cells topped with tempered glass can generate 3,000-kilowatt hours of electricity. Burn calories while you gain energy, quite literally!

Solar Trash Cans

solar trashcan

Let us introduce you to solar trash cans that can automatically concise the amount of waste, expanding the bin’s capacity up to 8 times. Not only solar powered but also “smart”, they can communicate with servers and send alerts when they are to be emptied. Still tempted to talk trash about solar? 😛

Solar Tents for Defense

solar military tent

Despite Trump’s iffy ideologies about green energy, the largest U.S Government Agency – the Department of Defense – plans to harness the Sun’s energy. Solar Tents could power batteries for communication, GPS, night vision goggles, and other gears; eliminating the need for large convoys. This reduces the noise available for enemies to detect their position and movements.

Solar is paramount, even on the battlefield.

Solar Planes

solar aeroplane

Is that a bird? No, is that a plane? Yes, but, not any common plane. Covered with 17,000 solar cells on its wings, the Solar Impulse 2 is powered by solar energy. It flew a massive 40,000 kilometres without fuel. The motive behind the mission was to inspire people to adopt clean technologies in their lives.

Solar Boats

solar boat

In a sea filled with noisy boats that pollute the air and water, solar-powered ones are like a relaxing-sunny day spent on them. Over the years, various solar boats have gained the limelight, including The Serpentine Solar Shuttle, The Loon: Solar Pontoon and The Sun 21 Solar Boat – which was awarded the Guinness World Record for the fastest transatlantic crossing!

ms turanator solar boat

LEGIT FACT: The MS Turanor Solar Boat is the largest solar boat in operation! The boat exclusively relies on solar panels supplied by six lithium-ion batteries. It can navigate up to 72 hours through the waves in the dark, on a full charge.

Solar Windows

A group of scientists at Michigan State University looked at glassy skyscrapers and saw untapped potential. So, what did they come up with? To turn windows into solar panels! The new solar window technology leaves the glass clear while blocking the UV and infrared radiation (along with unwanted heat) that usually leak through it.


At Solarify, we believe that the potential of solar power is limitless – which is backed by some of the instances of solar that we’ve mentioned here.

Now, we can say this for sure that we really can’t put just one finger where solar fits. The most striking new instances of solar energy might be ones that you’ll never see coming.

While new materials promise to capture the sun’s power by being transparent, making it possible to use them on windows, phones, and other small electronics; other materials are being re-engineered to harness more of the Sun’s energy.

Know about any other unusual instances of solar? Tell us with a WhatsApp message here on 9742454443.

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