Sun Stations
Sun Stations

Off-grid equipment has until very recently been focussed largely on devices for individual homes. But increasingly companies are offering technology aimed at off-grid communities. Here are three new devices designed to help small communities, hamlets and villages sustain themselves free of mains services. International wind turbine company Urban Green Energy has developed what it claims is the first cost effective off-grid solar and wind turbine hybrid street light. The new device stands 8 to 12 metres high and features a UGE 300W 2nd Generation Vertical Axis Wind Turbine, an 80W solar panel, and enough batteries to provide at least 5 days storage. “Most of the power will come from the wind turbine as it has a higher energy density than solar. You wouldn’t be able to have an industrial strength light with solar alone unless the solar was massive or installed elsewhere beside the road,” says company spokesman Nick Blitterswyk. He claims that his off-grid or stand alone street lamp will save money on installation as well as operation. “When installing typical streetlights a lot of cost goes into the wiring – between the lamps and to the power source,” says Blitterswyk. “With this wind/solar streetlight it is completely plug and play. A small concrete foundation is poured, the light is erected, the switch is turned on, and you are good to go.” With changing weather patterns, water shortages are becoming a global issue and clean water supply is increasingly becoming a brake on off-grid living –especially in places like California and Australia which have recently faced the worst droughts in their history. The new M3 desalination and water purification system developed by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science addresses that problem. It’s compact enough to be transported in the back of a van, yet it can generate 6,000 gallons of drinking water per day from the sea or 8,000 to 9,000 gallons per day from brackish groundwater. This makes it an ideal candidate for use in new settlements, in drought areas and locations hit by natural disasters such as earth quakes, flooding and fire. Having got your water, what if you want it chilled, or even frozen? What if you have medical supplies that have to be kept cold and fresh in a hundred degree environment? What if you just want to keep your cocktails cool? True there are already all sorts of lo-tech coolers and fridges available.  But Industrial Insulation Systems’ new solar-powered fridge/freezer actively thrives on sunlight. The made to order device will maintain temperatures as cold as -5F (-20C) for at least 24 hours between charge. But with the (up to) 400 amp hr battery capacity and solar panels working in harmony and regular sunlight, the company claims it should be able to go completely off-grid indefinitely. And if you already have your own low voltage (DC) fridge and don’t want to buy another one you can just buy the solar kit from IIS and fit it to that. Then there’s the idea for public energy fountains –sources of free community energy that function just like public water fountains that provide free solar energy in open areas, to charge gadgets like cell phones and laptops while at the park or outside a bus station? Sun Stations, designed by Julene Aguirre-Bielschowsky of Germany, are pieces of public furniture made of concrete, wood and stainless steel that have solar panels built in. A display above the power socket indicates how much energy the gadget is using, and a green light below the solar panel provides soft local lighting and displays the energy available. Off-grid equipment has until recently been focussed on devices for individual homes. But more companies are offering technology aimed at off-grid communities. Here are three new devices designed to help small communities, hamlets and villages sustain themselves free of mains services.

International wind turbine company Urban Green Energy has developed what it claims is the first cost effective off-grid solar and wind turbine hybrid street light.

The new device stands 8 to 12 metres high and is totally portable and features a UGE 300W 2nd Generation Vertical Axis Wind Turbine, an 80W solar panel, and enough batteries to provide at least 5 days storage.

“Most of the power will come from the wind turbine as it has a higher energy density than solar. You wouldn’t be able to have an industrial strength light with solar alone unless the solar was massive or installed elsewhere beside the road,” says company spokesman Nick Blitterswyk.

He claims that his off-grid or stand alone street lamp will save money on installation as well as operation. “When installing typical streetlights a lot of cost goes into the wiring – between the lamps and to the power source,” says Blitterswyk. “With this wind/solar streetlight it is completely plug and play. A small concrete foundation is poured, the light is erected, the switch is turned on, and you are good to go.”

With changing weather patterns, water shortages are becoming a global issue and clean water supply is increasingly becoming a brake on off-grid living –especially in places like California and Australia which have recently faced the worst droughts in their history .

The new M3 desalination and water purification system developed by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science addresses that problem.

It’s compact enough to be transported in the back of a van, yet it can generate 6,000 gallons of drinking water per day from the sea or 8,000 to 9,000 gallons per day from brackish groundwater. This makes it an ideal candidate for use in new settlements, in drought areas and locations hit by natural disasters such as earth quakes, flooding and fire.

Having got your water, what if you want it chilled, or even frozen? What if you have medical supplies that have to be kept cold and fresh in a hundred degree environment? What if you just want to keep your cocktails cool?

True there are already all sorts of lo-tech coolers and fridges available.  But Industrial Insulation Systems’ new solar-powered fridge/freezer actively thrives on sunlight. The made to order device will maintain temperatures as cold as -5F (-20C) for at least 24 hours between charge. But with the (up to) 400 amp hr battery capacity and solar panels working in harmony and regular sunlight, the company claims it should be able to go completely off-grid indefinitely.

And if you already have your own low voltage (DC) fridge and don’t want to buy another one you can just buy the solar kit from IIS and fit it to that.

Then there’s the idea for public energy ‘fountains’ –sources of free community energy that function just like public water fountains, providing free solar energy in open areas, to charge gadgets like cell phones and laptops while at the park or outside a bus station. Sun Stations, designed by Julene Aguirre-Bielschowsky of Germany, are pieces of public furniture made of concrete, wood and stainless steel that have solar panels built in. A display above the power socket indicates how much energy the gadget is using, and a green light below the solar panel provides soft local lighting and displays the energy available.

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2 Responses to “New generation of off-grid products for communities”

  1. Richard Swain III

    Interesting article, we will definitely check into these companies.

    Reply
  2. Your Solar Green Shop

    These devices are awesome. I can’t believe how far we are coming with solar technology. This is exciting!

    Reply

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