Sidewalk Solar Panels May Enable You To Charge Your Phone Anywhere

A solar power company is installing pavement that produces enough energy from the sun to charge our cellphones, all while fostering local community.


May 20 2019, Updated 4:22 p.m. ET

All outdoor events, even a walk around the city, are now accompanied by the stress of wondering where you'll charge your phone. There are certainly people who are more lackadaisical about losing contact—and some who may be hoping to—but for the rest of us, these new USB ports are a glimpse of what the future of charging on the go may look like.

A group called Platio, a Budapest-based solar power company, has been installing their modules in cities around Europe as an example of what solar power is capable of when used as an ordinary part of city planning. But they also try to integrate green technologies with modern needs, like staying connected to the Internet. On their website they write, "As developers of Platio, being committed to environmentally friendly technologies, we have the aim to create a clean and energy-independent future, in which we create a new basis for urban life with taking into consideration the perspectives of information based society."

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According to Curbed, their most recent installation is in Városháza Park in Budapest. The wavy chairs were built by a local studio called Hello Wood, and they're outfitted with USB chargers for smart phones. 

In the video below, a representative from Platio explains that the chairs and configuration of the installation were designed to encourage people to relax, and interact, because they want their work to support community. Plus, you need something to do as your phone charges, and chatting is a good option. 

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Platio's very first installation took place in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, Inhabitat reports. The USB ports are powered by solar panels installed in the pavement, where they're protected by anti-slip glass. The panels themselves are made of recycled plastic.

The panel installation in Astana partially powers a mall in the area's "Green Quarter." On a very sunny day it can generate 11 kilowatts of power from 861 square feet of panels, which isn't quite enough to power a house. Yet. Imagine if all our sidewalks did more than radiate heat, and instead created energy. You'd never need to go to a coffee shop to charge your laptop again!


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