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The e-QBO gives solar power a face lift

| March 10, 2014

Italy is bringing solar power to the streets. Literally. A group of Italian designers have created an innovative, portable product that harnesses solar power and makes that power available for a variety of applications.

The product is called the e-QBO, and it’s turning a lot of heads — both literally and figuratively. In a country where publicly-visible art is nearly as ubiquitous as pigeons, the e-QBO functions like a futuristic art installation. It is comprised of individual panels measuring one square meter each. Those panels can be combined and then arranged into a variety of shapes.

The e-QBO cafe. From e-QBO.

The e-QBO cafe. From e-QBO.

The size is very customizable, so the block “can be made small enough for people to sit on, or large enough to be an inhabitable space,” reports Valentina Palladino in The Verge.

The e-QBO stores solar power energy “in battery packs of up to 90 kWh,” according to an article by Jenny Xie in The Atlantic Cities. That power can be used for public lighting as well as “video mapping installations, charging ports for mobile devices and electric vehicles, and WiFi.”

The size variability and self-powering functionality both make for an extremely portable product. That portability is attractive for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its potential to serve isolated communities (such as desert regions) that are off the electric grid.

The e-QBO is easy to set up and take down, and can be deployed in one place for “a week or a month” or however long its needed, and then packed up and moved to another place.

The e-QBO is new to market, with the first prototypes completed last summer. However, it is already cropping up around Italy, and there is widespread interest. It can serve as a temporary visitor center, information hub, charging station, or simply a lighted attraction.

Xie reports that: “There’s interest in setting up e-QBO’s in African villages, too, where the solar cubes could serve as small-scale clinics or schools capable of powering computers, cell phone charging, and lighting after dark.”

The standard 5×5-sized e-QBO costs around $150,000. While that might prevent private citizens from tossing an e-QBO in their backyard for fun, the cost is certainly within the realm of reason for many municipalities. This is especially true when considering the cost savings of generating power without needing to be connected to the city’s power grid.

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Category: Electronics

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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