Solar panels header

7 surprising solar-powered inventions

May 21, 2018 - 3min read

There are many solar-powered innovations that have entered the mainstream. Solar panels on buildings, solar garden lights and solar heating systems are all becoming more and more commonplace. And with the ever-advancing developments in this sustainable technology, and the creativity of environmentally-conscious entrepreneurs, the possibilities are truly endless.

Here are some of our favourite solar inventions…

Solar Road

SolaRoad Netherlands with bicycles riding over it

Cycling is already a fantastic way to travel without producing harmful emissions, but the brains behind SolaRoad made bike travel even greener. SolaRoad is a bike path in North Holland made from solar panels, the electricity generated is then used to power streetlights and traffic lights. Since its formal unveiling in 2014, the cycle highway has been extended and improved upon. This is part of SolaRoad’s dream to have vast areas of Dutch road surfaces functioning as solar panels.


The Sun Always Shines On TV

Sol Cinema

You know the old saying, great things come in small packages? Well, let us introduce to you the ‘smallest movie theatre in the solar system’. The Sol Cinema is an 8-seater cinema housed in a vintage caravan, so it can roll along to any location. It is also powered completely by solar energy. The golden era of Hollywood comes into a new light in the age of solar.


Solar Powered Stadium

A sports stadium with solar panels

A solar-powered stadium in Kaohsiung, Taiwan is powered by 8,844 panels on the roof. This architectural masterpiece has capacity for 55,000 spectators and the potential to generate enough electricity to power 80% of the local area.


Solar Around The World

The Solar Impulse aircraft in flight

In 2016 Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg completed the first circumnavigation of the globe without using a drop of fuel. The ambitious solar aircraft managed this 40,000 km feat over 5 days. Solar Impulse (the aircraft) became the very first solar plane to cross the world’s two biggest oceans: the Atlantic and the Pacific, with the two pilots swapping shifts throughout the journey. This was the ninth world record set by Solar Impulse.  


Solar on the Seven Seas

A solar-powered sea vessel

The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is another solar-powered vehicle that has made its way around the world, this time by sea. This huge yacht navigated around the world for 585 days, finishing in Monaco in May 2012, powered by photovoltaic energy.


Solar Powered Internet

A Zubabox solar-powered internet hub

Zubabox is a solar-powered internet hub housed in a shipping container to connect people who live in off-grid areas. The project is backed by Computer Aid and aims ‘to break a cycle of exclusion’. Zubaboxes have been installed in refugee camps, rural neighbourhoods and other places where people are displaced and disadvantaged by their lack of connection. The word ‘zuba’ itself is from the Nyanja language, spoken in Malawi and Zambia, meaning ‘sun’. These hubs allow people to connect with work opportunities, medical advice and provide IT training. 


Paint It Green

An image demonstrating how solar powered paint might be applied

How can you maximise the amount of renewable energy your home produces? The invention of solar-powered paint could turn every inch of the surface into a micro-generator of clean energy. Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have created paint that absorbs solar energy as well as moisture from the air. The water from the air is then broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, and the hydrogen is then stored for use in fuel cells.