One of the ways that consumers can integrate renewable energy solutions into their lives is by purchasing consumer products and accessories that can divert some of the electricity needs away from the grid and toward the sun, particularly as photovoltaic thin-film solar cells become more affordable.
Ascent Solar, a company that makes consumer-level solar products, will now be selling its line of solar-powered charger smartphone cases on many popular e-commerce sites, including Amazon. Customers who own the Samsung Galaxy SIII and Apple iPhone 4 and 4s models will be able to purchase cases specifically tailored to the designs of those phones. In addition, they’ll also be able to buy solar chargers that can plug into any smartphone with a USB connection.
“The growth of ecommerce as the preferred method of shopping by most American consumers is a trend which EnerPlex is perfectly positioned to take advantage of.”Victor Lee, President & CEO of Ascent Solar, said in a news release.
Ascent also makes thin film solar modules that can be used in other applications, such as construction and industrial processes. The goal of the company is to create off-grid solar products that are easily adaptable into a variety of situations. These products would be particularly useful to customers who are camping or operating in remote areas and need electricity to charge their handheld appliances, or in industrial applications when a wireless charging device would be needed.
One iPhone case by itself isn’t going to offset carbon emissions drastically. But if millions of consumer goods are fueled with sunlight rather than conventional grid power, the effect on emissions and electricity use wouldn’t be trivial.
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Palo Alto, California, will now require new homes be built with electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the city council unanimously voted to pass a new ordinance that makes 240 volt level 2 charging stations mandatory for new home construction, due to the reduced costs associated with incorporating this feature at the time of building rather than after a home is finished.
Palo Alto has been a leader in the state when it comes to adopting green ideas as a matter of public policy. The city has a very friendly climate for solar power and other renewable energy technologies, and this latest ordinance is a continuation of that progressive approach.
"Let's figure out as a council what we can do to remove the obstacles to owning electric vehicles in Palo Alto," Mayor Greg Scharff told the source. "I think what we really need to do is make it convenient, easy and economical… The thing that caught me is how simple and easy and fairly inexpensive it is to rough-in the wiring."
The price of adding a charging station during construction can be as little as $200, which is about 25 percent of what it would cost to add once the home is completed. The challenge for the city going forward is to reduce the permitting fee for adding charging stations. One church had to pay $459 for their EV charging station permit.
This policy is a great way to encourage more consumers to purchase green vehicles, as one of the obstacles to wider integration of these products into the marketplace is that charging station infrastructure is still in a nascent stage in most areas of the country. Hopefully, more communities will follow Palo Alto's example.
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