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LaterLife TechnoFile

Modern technology has so much scope and power to dramatically improve our lives. However it also changes at an incredibly fast rate, and keeping abreast of what's out there, and how it can help you, is a full time job!

So to accompany the 150+ articles in Jackie Sherman's YoucandoIT Question & Answer series we are introducing a new article series: The LaterLife TechnoFile

Technofile will help you to understand some of the bewildering array of technology available today, and possibly help to keep up with your grandchildren!

And if there is a technology topic you want to know more about? Let us know at

Solar Power

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has been making headlines as a recent report by them demands that carbon emissions are cut to address climate change. It may seem counter-intuitive but the very drive for technological advance that is held as the prime cause of climate change might also enable us to slow, mitigate or even prevent the worst effects. This article considers some of the solar technologies that are being developed with the hope that, by adopting our gift for technology in order to counteract environmental issues, we can generate more excitement and more momentum behind creative solutions: solutions that won’t require us to turn back the clock on hundreds of years of technology and industrialisation-led improvement in global living standards.

When people mention solar energy, one of the first things that comes up is solar roof panels. Despite this they aren’t the most popular form of energy as the expense of solar roof panels seems to be the biggest determent of their installation.

On asking the Energy Saving’s Trust about solar panels they said,

“Home renewables, such as solar panels, were considered to be the “ideal” energy efficiency improvement if money and hassle were no object, with most respondents putting this ahead of wall and loft insulation and draught excluders, despite often living in homes with draught problems.”

They even go as far to estimate that UK households could save over £3bn a year just by installing solar panels to south facing detached and semi-detached homes, hinting that the initial expense would in fact be recuperated.
Solar roof panels however, are only the tip of the iceberg.

solarboxfor instance is an innovative use of solar cells. Having gained second place in the Major of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award, solarbox is a simple but effective initiative. Traditional red telephone boxes which are coming into disuse are being replaced with bright green solar powered charging points for phones and other devices. It is also completely free, being sustained through advertising. Co-founder of solarbox Kirsty Kenney said:

“Our idea was born out of our interest in the use of public space and renewable energy and is all about providing a service that people really need. We've all been caught out - phone battery life just can't keep up with the pace of our modern lives. By using solar power and repurposing old phone boxes we have been able to provide a real solution in an environmentally friendly way.”
Having been successfully launched on the 1st of October at Tottenham Court Road, these new green boxes are set to replace the iconic red telephone boxes.

solarbox hints at how diverse and innovative the Energy sector is increasingly becoming. New materials are being developed which include solar paint, fabric and windows. One of the most exciting and talked about innovations in development this year however, would be solar powered roadways.

Solar Roadways is currently firmly in the development stage, but thanks to successful fund raising on project funding website IndiGoGo, and the help of a ridiculous YouTube promotional video by a fan, Scott and Julie Brusaw are carrying out their plans for a modular, solar panelled road way.

Pretty self-explanatory by the companies name, the plan is to develop a myriad of cells that are fitted together to create roadways. They will then utilise the suns energy to create power, which could be used for nearby towns for instance. Using roads to create energy with the use of solar panels is a great idea since they have such a large surface area.

Starting with a solar panelled car park, Scott and Julie have a long design process ahead of them, however if this method reaches mass manufacturing and implementation then a highly modernised road way is to be expected.
These panels would not only provide energy for neighbouring buildings but have endless opportunities; including charging the vehicles driving on them, increasing road safety through the inclusion of lights in each cell which could monitor driving patterns and signal when someone is driving dangerously, as well as creating roads that will last longer with less maintenance.

As solar technology begins to get cheaper, who knows what possibilities will arise, especially when innovation is going beyond the stereotype of rooftop solar panels. With more people adopting solar energy it’s development will become more of a priority which ultimately your Grandchildren will benefit from.

Previous Articles:

National Home Security Month
Can technology ever replace people in the care industry?
Planning Your Holiday - Online
Techno Phone not Technophobe
Bio-Printing: What it is and what does it mean?
7 of the Best Free Healthcare Related Apps

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