AT&T is erecting 25 solar-powered charging stations in outdoor spaces through New York City’s five boroughs as part of a pilot project aimed at meeting the growing power needs of smartphone and tablet-wielding consumers.
The stations, each equipped with three 15-watt solar panels (pictured), can charge up to six devices at a time regardless of wireless carrier with dedicated ports for iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys and standard USB cables, reported the New York Times.
The pilot program, which could expand to other cities, is emerging in an age when people are consuming more data via their smartphones and tablets, creating a market to provide power to charge the devices as well as a need for greater energy efficiency to offset the increased use of electricity.
Commercial buildings today have far more electricity-consuming appliances than its equivalent in 1980. But buildings today are not consuming substantially more electricity per square foot thanks to energy efficiency improvements to HVAC and lighting as well as many power-sucking devices. For example, earlier this year an international coalition of national energy agencies created a competition aimed at improving energy efficiency of computer monitors.
The AT&T wireless charging stations aims to fill the power gap for workers commuting to and from their work places. Those power demands are greater than ever before as free wireless Internet access is rolled out in subways, parks and other public spaces.
AT&T is working with GoalZero, which makes portable solar chargers, and Pensa, a design consultancy firm. The charging stations will rotate locations every few weeks through October, reported NYT.
Solar charging stations have popped up throughout the world to power an array of devices and electric vehicles. Solar Impulse, a one-man aircraft powered entirely by solar power, recently crossed the US.
Numerous companies also are installing solar to help power their commercial buildings and factories. Municipalities also are turning to solar. Brightergy Solar Solutions and Kansas City Power & Light announced in May plans to install solar panels on 80 buildings by the end of this year, as part of Kansas City’s plans to go solar.