SolarSPELL: Solar Powered Educational Learning Library

Just read about this super interesting new method to deliver a digital library that comes with its own Wi-Fi hotspot – useful for many rural areas around the globe.

Arizona State University professor Laura Hosman in the Schools of Engineering and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society created this innovative device, the Solar Powered Educational Learning Library, known as SolarSPELL

WHAT IS IT?  A digital library full of educational resources that generates its own Wi-Fi signal and solar power though any internet-capable device, such as an iPad, laptop or smartphone. AKA – a self-powered plug-and-play kit, portable enough to fit into a backpack.

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Calculate Solar Power

FindSolar is a great resources for libraries to share with their patrons or use themselves!  This website offers lots of resources, location information on solar and allows users to determine the cost of adding solar to your home (including pools, spas and domestic hot water) based on location, climate and electric bills.  It offer info for both  residential and commercial through it’s a partnership with American Solar Energy Society, Solar Electric Power Association, Energy Matters and the US Dept of Energy.

Check out the Solar Maps area to find out where solar is currently located (or add your location if missing!), the learn of solar power incentives your area, to see how your state compares to others in regards to rebates and incentives, and even view a California heat map to see how solar installation has grown there in recent years.  The Solar Power Costs calculator will help you determine if solar energy will work for you.

Solar Powered ebook Reader

The new LG Display used photovoltaic solar to power this ebook reader. Four to Five hours of sunlight will give the users a whole day of use w/o recharging.  It uses a thin-film solar cell – 10 centimeters squared – to  fit the 6″ display panel for the e-book, which  is produced “by placing electrodes onto a glass or plastic substrate. Contrary to widely adopted crystalline solar cells that employ silicon wafers, the thin-film solar cell is generally light-weight and easily adjustable in size and form for applications such as e-books or mobile phones.” (from LG Display Web site) It’s not available in the US yet but stay tuned. Read more at the Inhabitat Web site.

Mapping the Future of Solar/Renewable Energy

The BLM  (Bureau of land management) and Dept of Energy  created maps of six U.S. states most suitable for solar energy generation and transmission: Arizona (PDF and below), California (PDF), Colorado (PDF), Nevada (PDF), New Mexico (PDF) and Utah (PDF). The US Govt is now conducting several environmental impact studies, opening solar energy permitting offices, and overhauling the application and review process for utilities looking to develop land for solar energy generation. Read more on CNET’s Green Tech site.

There is also a new set of layers – 14 types of areas within three main categories of land protection –  for Google Earth called Path to Green Energy, developed byNatural Resources Defense Council and the National Audubon Society and a Google.org’s Geo Challenge Grants.  The tool’s goals is to provide industry, conservationists, policy-makers, and concerned citizens instant access to interactive wildlife, habitat and land management maps to guide appropriate site selection for renewable power generation and transmission facilities. Launch the tool through NRDC site and read more details here.

Another GREEN Colorado Library

The  Rangeview Library District’s new branch library –  Anythink Brighton – is the first carbon-positive library in the United States. With solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and a gift of carbon-offset credits, the library will save $30,000 a year in energy costs and offset 167,620 pounds of carbon dioxide which is 16% more than it is anticipated to use annually. .. Read more online at  the American Libraries Magazine.

Recharging your gadgets

Some unique, new ideas to recharge gadgets w/o electricity ideas from Inhabitat:

For USB devices try the hand crank Super Battery (available from Datexx) – good for traveling, when your loose electricity, or when you want to work your arm muscles 🙂

Or go solar with the 58″ long waterproof solar roll which recharges anything electronic (available from Brunton). It’s a bit pricey but worth checking out for a fun idea anyway. Now we can run our library’s virtual reference desk while fishing on remote lake in Canada or climbing in the Himalayas!

Try wind power for something new: this personal wind turbine (available from Hymini) can be hooked up to various devices when you are on the go to recharge by wind power.

Put more human power into recharging by using the Weza Foot Powered Energy Source (available from Freeplay) You can generate enough power to start a car as well as your cell phone, GPS, or iPod. Libraries off the grid? Not such a crazy concept anymore, eh?

One more idea for recharging … your own personal kinetic energy! (from Cnet) “Music company Orange and GotWind, a firm specializing in renewable energy, have teamed up to create a device called the Dance Charge. Weighing 180 grams (about 6.3 ounces), you strap it around your arm. Dance Charge then uses the kinetic energy generated by your body in motion to juice up your phone.”