Tesla’s Elon Musk has long propagated the idea that solar is the power source of the future, and tech giants like Apple and Amazon have recently been pushing to reduce their dependence on non-renewables. But Cochin, a city in the South Indian state of Kerala, has upped the ante, announcing that its international airport will now run completely on solar power from 46,150 panels laid across 45 acres.
THE EQUIVALENT OF PLANTING THREE MILLION TREES
According to a press release, Cochin International’s solar power station is expected to save 300,000 tons worth of carbon emissions over the next 25 years. That’s the equivalent of planting three million trees or not driving 750 million miles.
The airport’s parent company, Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), plans to sell surplus energy from the new solar plant to the Kerala State Electricity Board. CIAL has also said that it is looking to continue exploring alternate energy resources, taking advantage of the numerous water bodies in Kerala through dam-based solar panels and other hydro power projects.
India already has 4 gigawatts of solar capacity, and the Indian government has begun directing other airports around the country to start incorporating solar energy into their daily operations. The new international terminal at the Cochin airport will be operational in May 2016.
Solar panels keep getting lighter and tinier—good news for rugged on-the-go types who can charge their devices on the trail with sun-fueled chargers. And this particular solar charger on Kickstarter is so thin, you can slip it in your Lonely Planet while it feeds your phone battery.
It’s called Solar Paper: 7.5 inches long, 3.5 wide, and .15 thin. There’s a .45-inch thick USB charging port at the top, which sticks out of your book like a bookmark that sucks in that precious sunlight.
One of these panels weights 4.5 ounces and equals 2.5 watts, and you can connect more panels with magnets for more power. In good weather, two connected panels can fully juice an iPhone 6 in about two-and-a-half hours. You can connect up to four foldable units for a total of 10 watts, capable of charging an iPad Air 2 to 100% in four hours.
A nifty feature is Solar Panel’s auto restart. With similar gadgets, a passing cloud or sudden shadow shuts the charger down, forcing manual reboot. But Solar Panel resets that automatically. You can use it to charge anything that connects with USB: GoPro, external batteries, Bluetooth speakers, digital cameras, and so on.
Developed by solar company Yolk, the project’s raked in over $320,000, way past its modest $50K goal. A month left of funding still remains. The team hopes to have the first batch deliverable by September.
The past couple years have welcomed a whole rucksack’s full of portable, solar-powered gear built for the outdoors: like flashlights, watches, and bikes. May as well put the giant star to good use.