In July this year the record was broken for the longest solar-powered flight at five hours, and now, while not quite so impressive, RadioLive will make national broadcasting history tomorrow afternoon when it produces a three-hour show, powered on solar energy alone.
While some community radio stations use solar energy, Duncan Garner’s drive show will be the first solar powered broadcast to be heard around New Zealand, a release says.
The off-grid broadcast from RadioLive’s temporary studio at Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter is being powered by a solar system designed by solar energy services company, Solarcity.
“We’re making history today. Solar uptake is taking off around the world because it’s a cleaner, cheaper form of electricity and it’s revolutionising the way we’re powering our lives,” says Solarcity chief executive Andrew Booth.
“In the last 18 months the number of Kiwis choosing to power their homes and businesses on solar energy has trebled. Our solarZero initiative has removed the upfront costs, which were a barrier to going solar. Now it’s easy and affordable for Kiwis to get all the benefits from clean energy that solar delivers.”
Garner says he’s happy to help build awareness around the future of sustainable energy by broadcasting his whole radio show with 100 percent renewable energy.
“I’m all for showing Kiwis how they can save money and help make a difference environmentally,” he says.
Similarly, in a recent talk where Tesla's Elon Musk unveiled the new Tesla Powerwall and Tesla Powerpack, he revealed the entire evening had been powered by solar.
"This entire night has been powered by batteries,” he told the audience pointing Powerpack systems standing on end and powering the facility. “Everything you're experiencing is stored sunlight.”
According to a report by the Electricity Networks Association on the uptake of solar panels in New Zealand, in October 2013 there were only 1,630 solar installations nation-wide. By March this year the number had leapt to 5,367, a 220 percent increase, with most in homes.
The top of the South Island has the highest concentration of solar installations per person. Tasman has 41 per 10,000 people, much higher than the national average of 12. But even in Otago and Southland, solar arrays per person are the same or higher than in areas such as Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, which get more sun.
The city with the lowest rate of solar uptake is Wellington, which has only 2.7 solar installations per 10,000 people – well below the rest of the country and less than the greater Wellington region (5 per 10,000 people), the report says.
And as a slight aside, here’s some other cool solar-powered bits and bobs:
1. Solar-powered backpacks
These high fashion backpacks can charge all your small electronics while you’re on the move. They have flexible, light polar panels on the outside which generates and stores surplus energy. They come with standard adaptors for cell phones and MP3 devices.
2. A solar-powered movie theatre
England’s Sol Cinema, dubbed the world’s smallest solar-powered cinema runs only on energy from the sun. The system includes projectors, sound systems, laptops and hard drives. Due to the system the owners have no utility bill and it’s on wheels so it can be taken anywhere, anytime.
3. Solar-powered planes
As mentioned before, solar powered planes exist, and they are amazing. One plane, Pathfinder is a lightweight, solar powered remotely piloted flying wing aircraft that’s demonstrating the possibilities for solar in air travel.
4. Hats with solar-powered fans
This one is borderline ridiculous, but so good we had to include it. The tiny solar panels on the top or brim of the hat power fans that fluff a gentle, cooling breeze on your face. We can almost see this being the next hipster trend.