Most consumers are familiar with solar power systems that are connected to the grid – perhaps visions of solar panels on rooftops come to mind in which the solar photovoltaic (PV) system is connected with the utility wires running into a home. But what many people do not realize is that solar power systems have many off-grid applications. By “off-grid,” I mean those that aren’t hooked up to the larger electrical system at large. In fact, this is one of the major benefits of solar power systems – that they can be used anywhere without the need for clunky wires and poles to bring them to market.
In this article, we summarize three major ways that off-the-grid solar PV applications are being used, which include:
- Electrifying remote, rural villages
- Improving telecommunications
- Military Uses
Electrifying Remote, Rural Villages
In many parts of the world, small and remote villages don’t have access to electricity and consequently, many modern day amenities like lighting, heating and cooling and pumping water. Off-the-grid solar applications are being brought to these remote areas to improve the quality of life by offering affordable, reliable and clean sources of energy.
Computers and cell phones are an essential for many consumers, but unfortunately a charge only lasts so long. Grid-free solar products are being used to change this dilemma by giving round-the-clock access to charge various telecommunications devices, including cell phones, computers, GPS trackers, etc. This means that people can be connected at all times, no matter how remote they are.
The military consumes a lot of energy – in fact, the U.S. military is one of the single biggest users of energy globally. The military also works in many remote locations, which often have limited or intermittent access to power. Off-grid solar PV applications are a perfect solution to charging necessary devices for the military – telecommunications and navigation equipment for example – in remote locations at an affordable cost to tax payers and in a more environmentally sound manner.
These are just the top three common uses of off-grid solar. But the potential is seemingly limitless with new devices making it onto the market nearly every day, including things like traffic and street lights, air conditioners, refrigerators, watches, calculators, flashlights, cooking equipment, desalination kits, and fans – the possibilities are truly endless.