1. Solar-powered Cars: I’m not sure if you’ll ever be able to buy a solar-powered car, but some researchers at Japan’s Tokai University and Panasonic, among others, are trying to make it possible, and there are some pretty wicked solar-powered car races out there, like the World Solar Challenge in Australia (the 2011 race is coming up next month — October 16-23).
2. Solar-powered Boats: If there are solar-powered cars, you know there have to be solar-powered boats, too. The largest solar-powered boat in the world is TÛRANOR PlanetSolar (pictured above) designed by Craig Loomes of LOMOcean Design (Auckland, NZ). WWF also has a solar-powered boat it uses for activism and renewable energy education. Check out the video below for more (best if you understand Spanish):
3. Solar-powered Planes: And… if there are solar cars and boats, there are also solar-powered planes. Seriously. The Swiss solar-powered Solar Impulse made its first 24-hour flight last year and made its first international flight this year. But Boeing and the DoD have much bigger goals. They’re working on a solar-powered plane called the Solar Eagle that they think will be able to fly around the world for years without stopping!
4. Portable Solar Desalination Plant: Maybe not for your average Joe and maybe not as exciting as the above, but solar-powered desalination plants like those developed by MIT engineers from the Field and Space Robotics Laboratory could be more than useful, life-saving, in disaster situations and remote places of the world.
5. Solar Phone Chargers: Like solar backpacks, solar phone chargers have been around for awhile and there are a number of different options out there. One of the newest options out there is the Eton Mobius iPhone4 solar charger and case.
6. Spray-on Solar Paint: Getting back to cool solar power options for homes and buildings (like previously highlighted solar shingles and solar windows), cheap solar paint or spray-on solar panels are being developed by a handful of different research teams. Hopefully, someday, such options will be as available as plain old solar panels are today.
7. Colorful Solar Panels: Last but not least, at least a couple companies, QSolar and GreenSun, have developed colorful solar panels for those of us who are color-picky. Cool-looking products. Would love to see them in real life!
More cool solar power technologies to share? I’m about tapped out, so please leave a comment below!
Photo Credits: PlanetSolar
Recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert, I am the director and chief editor of Cleantechnica. I’m also the president of Important Media and the director & founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love.