Solar Tech Spotlight

The world’s largest solar-powered computer, a solar plant that runs at night, the world’s tallest solar water system and a tuk tuk that runs on sunlight

With solar energy use increasing worldwide and the U.S. reaching 1 million solar systems nationwide this month, it’s hard to to keep up on the latest industry news and innovations. That’s why we are turning on the Solar Tech Spotlight to share with you the newest and most exciting developments.

Solar-powered computer to provide safe drinking water, Wi-Fi and electricity to rural Africa (CNN) – The Walty computer, described as the “world’s largest solar-powered computer” will provide services to those with basic technology needs – and a cool drink of water too. The system uses PV panels and a 140-kWh battery to produce power and run a patented water treatment system that can provide 5,000 liters of safe drinking water per day. The company is shooting to install 10,000 units across Africa, creating an estimated 50,000 jobs.

Utility-scale solar plant in Nevada that can generate power at night, a first (Time) – Using thousands of mirrors to reflect sunlight into a central tower where liquid salt heats up to a high temperature and then powers a steam turbine, this 110-megawatt concentrated solar plant can be used anytime – day or night. “People are spending a lot of money on the battery market,” said SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith. “But [this facility] is more storage than all the utility-scale batteries in the world combined.”

World’s tallest solar water system installed on Rincon Hill in San Francisco (Curbed San Francisco) – Atop a luxurious apartment high rise completed last month is a solar water heating system with a 5,000-gallon storage tank descending into the building’s core. Projections are that the building will save 1.2 million cubic feet of natural gas and generate an estimated $18,000 in savings a year. The system uses glass vacuum tubes instead of flat panels to absorb heat, which is great for unruly weather like cloudy, foggy or cool days.

Solar-powered tuk tuk making its way from India to Germany for the world’s longest electric vehicle rally (Popular Science) The solar-powered three-wheeled rickshaw will travel 5,500 miles from Bangladore to Northern Germany traveling at a meager 62 miles a day through countries such as Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria and Hungary. The journey, meant to bring attention to solar-powered and zero-emission vehicles, will take an estimated 100 days, not including the 1,000 extra miles that will be driven during the competition.