In recent weeks, our changing environment has featured heavily in news bulletins across the globe – most notably due to the signing of the Paris Agreement, where nearly 200 countries committed to a historic and ambitious plan to drastically cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
Even as we rejoiced in this landmark moment, however, we were struck by just how easy it is to forget those who have been fighting for the environment on a daily basis for years, using their own innovations to make the little differences that could make a huge impact in the battle against climate change.
The achievements of these individuals and companies might not make the headlines, but at Envirofone we think they’re worth celebrating – so we’ve decided to see out the year with our own look at three of our favourite eco-friendly technology breakthroughs you may not have heard about in 2015.
Solar Panel Pillars
The first group of eco-heroes we’d like to recognise are the academics of the University of Twente, who recently discovered that by adding tiny silicon pillars to the surface of solar panels, it’s possible to more than double their energy output.
When we say they’re tiny, we really mean it, as there are around a million of these pillars per square centimetre!
This new form of solar panel can harvest over twice as much energy as a flat-surfaced model, a breakthrough that could potentially revolutionise the way we utilise the power of our sun.
If we’re being honest, this discovery was actually first made in 2014, but – even within the scientific community – it was not fully reported on until recently, so we’re happy to honour it in this year’s list!
The SolPro Helios Smart
We couldn’t bring ourselves to talk about environmental technology advances over the past year without mentioning SolPro, and one of the best eco-friendly products released in 2015 – the amazing Helios Smart.
This smartphone and tablet charger features three highly efficient solar panels, allowing you to fully charge a standard phone in around 90 minutes. It’s small, highly portable, easy to use, and you can even plug in more than one device at once!
The Helios can also be charged via laptops, desktop computers, and by plug, but we’re happy to see any piece of technology that gets us off the grid and charging our phones using renewable power sources. Refuelling your smartphone using mains electricity may not require a huge amount of power, but with the number of users worldwide projected to reach over two billion in 2016, it all adds up!
Ocean Waste Plastic Trainers
You might not expect the plastic waste littering our seas to provide the key to one of our favourite environmentally friendly products of 2015, but that’s part of what makes this new Adidas trainer so astounding.
Created using a combination of plastic fished out of the ocean and a 3D-printed sole made from old fishing nets, this concept is hugely exciting due to the future opportunities that could arise from this unique form of recycling.
While 3D printing is not yet a ‘green’ process in itself, the potential to pair this developing technology with the recycling industry has opened up a vast array of new opportunities for future breakthroughs – so watch this space!