In a bid to bring more renewable energy choices to the public, while educating people on the benefits of solar power, one Serbian startup is building public solar charging stations that will energize mobile gadgets and serve as a social hub.
The vision of Strawberry Energy is to make renewable energy sources more accessible for all people, and to show that solar power and other clean energy solutions aren't just abstract concepts, but are instead practical and desirable. The way they're helping to get that message across is through their public solar charging stations, dubbed Strawberry Trees, which offer free charging for mobile devices, and in some cases, free WiFi.
"Recognizing that the best way to raise awareness about the issues of clean green energy is to present the benefits through practical example, Strawberry energy engages in research and promotion of renewable energy sources and sustainable development."
Because so many of us are dependent on our phones, our tablets, and our music players, all of which are likely to run out of juice just when we need them, offering a way for users to recharge them with the power of the sun might be a great entry point for showing how solar energy has a place in our everyday lives.
The Strawberry Tree public solar stations, which are designed to be permanently installed in busy public places, include 16 charging cords (so users don't have to have their charger with them), and can serve as a meeting place and WiFi hotspot.
Currently, 12 of the Strawberry Tree charging stations are installed in Europe, with ten of them in Serbia and two in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and have proven to be popular with the public. The company recently signed a US distribution agreement with 3fficient Energy of California, which could open the door for wider adoption of these public solar chargers. According to 3fficient, the California Community College system has already expressed interest in the Strawberry Tree system.
Strawberry Energy also makes two other versions of the solar chargers, the Strawberry Mini, which is a smaller portable model that could be used for festivals and events, and the Mini Rural, which is even smaller and is designed for offgrid and rural use in areas without electricity.