Weird ways solar power is being used around the world

By Ceyda Erem ·

When you hear the words ‘solar power’, there may be a few things that cross your mind, like solar panels, batteries or heating systems. But with technology changing everyday and people getting smarter about how they use renewable energy, solar power can do more than just supply our homes with electricity.

So from the sky to the sea, here are six weird ways solar power is being used around the world. 

Smart bins 

You may have already started to see these nifty gadgets pop up around Australia on streets or along beaches. Smart bins soak up the sun’s rays and charges a battery, then once it starts to fill up, the smart bin compresses the rubbish to create more storage space. By doing this, fewer trips need to be made to collect the rubbish, which results in fewer emissions. 

String lights

String lights, fairy lights, whatever you call them, are another way to harness the power of the sun. Traditionally used for birthdays, weddings or other celebrations, fairy lights can brighten up any party (literally). A removable solar panel is attached to the lights, which charges a small battery. Then once the sun starts to go down, the battery turns the lights on before turning off when it senses the sun coming up. 

Beehives 

Don’t get too excited with this one, this is still in the works, but pretty cool nonetheless. Solar powered coolers are being tested in beehives to increase honey production, as the cooler the beehives, the more likely bees are to produce honey. And no, this doesn’t cause any damage to the beehive, meaning no bees will be harmed in the process. 

Solar planes 

You might have heard of solar powered cars but what about a solar powered plane? In a project that took around seven years to complete, the first solar plane took flight in Switzerland and travelled approximately 4000 feet above ground. But the best part is, the pilot managed to keep the plane in the sky for around 24 hours, thanks to the stored solar power. 

Solar paint 

Another project that’s still in the works is solar paint, a type of paint that can absorb water vapour and sunlight before being split to produce hydrogen fuel, which according to the professors developing the paint, is the cleanest source of fuel available. The paint will also be able to work effectively in hot and dry climates, as long as the home is close to the sea.

Beer

You read that right! According to Euronews, a waste water treatment plant in South Australia is using beer to generate renewable electricity! The SA Water’s Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant uses a combination of stale beer and sewage to create biogas. It's reported that the beer is being biodegraded under high temperatures by using natural bacterial processes to make the biogas, which in turn, generates electricity. 

Where is SA collecting all this stale beer you might ask? It's coming from the bars, clubs and restaurants that have been forced to close its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It's been said that around 50,000 litres of stale beer has already been repurposed and has boosted renewable energy generation by 654 megawatts in just one month! However at this stage, it's unclear as to whether this renewable energy strategy will be continued over the long term. 

But until we see solar planes at out local airports and painting our homes with our favourite shade of solar paint, you can still support the growth of solar power by opting for a GreenPower energy plan

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Ceyda Erem
Ceyda Erem
Money writer

Ceyda Erem is Mozo’s authority on Energy, as well as having broader expertise as a personal finance writer. She loves to put her researching and writing talents into stories that help our readers to make more informed financial choices, whether that’s about finding the best energy deal or writing about the latest sneaky bank tricks. Ceyda has a Bachelor of Arts (major in writing) from Macquarie University.