A competition between high schools across much of Northern and Central California for 100 micro solar power plants will be ramping up soon, powered by the organization Green Tech and Pacific Gas & Electric Company.
The portable, suitcase-sized solar units will be given away to schools through a contest being run on the utility’s website.
Weighing roughly 15 pounds, the units include a four-foot-long solar panel connected by wiring to a motorcycle battery, voltage converters and four car-charger outputs. PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno demonstrated the unit Thursday at the PG&E office in Chico.
The so-called solar suitcases would likely prove a godsend in an emergency such as after a major earthquake when electricity’s severed. In addition to running light bulbs, it works with portable electronics, such as mobile phones, tablet computers or basically any low-voltage device that can connect to a car charger.
Details of the contest are still being worked out, but those interested can sign up to be notified of contest rules and procedures now. Moreno said proposals are only limited by the imagination.
“How would your school utilize this ‘solar suitcase’ as a teaching technology to talk about sustainability, to talk about some of the importance of helping developing nations,” Moreno said.
In addition to local schools, several units will be donated to schools and clinics in remote parts of the developing world. Representatives from four local winning schools will be sent to hand-deliver the solar suitcases to clinics or schools in Kenya.
For more information, visit PG&E’s website.