by Lidija Grozdanić
|Photo by Nenad Pavlovic|
Have you ever found yourself in the street, keeping up with your daily schedule, just to realize that your mobile device’s battery is dead? A team of young Belgrade entrepreneurs have designed a Public Solar Charger that helps overcoming these frustrating situations caused by our dependency on tech gadgets.
The Strawberry Energy team consists of 9 talented students from different faculties from the University of Belgrade. The platform brings together young innovators with backgrounds in electrical engineering, architecture, machine engineering, organizational sciences, dramatic arts, etc. With great commitment to sustainability and renewable energy strategies they deploy their professional competencies and knowledge in the most palpable manner: by building things. They design, construct and install the projects all by themselves.
|Photo by Srdjan Srdjanov|
The Strawberry Tree is installed in places of high pedestrian frequency. It collects energy from the Sun and transforms it into electrical energy, thus enabling passersby to charge their mobile batteries for free and when they need them most – when they are outside. In addition to mobile phones, users can also charge iPods, iPads, MP3 players, digital cameras, wireless network connectors... Charging sessions last about 10-15 minutes. The Tree is designed to work with 100% efficiency for a month without sunlight, as researches show that the average annual number of sunny days in Serbia is around 180.
The project was first installed in 2010, in the Serbian city of Obrenovac, and by now 100.000 charging sessions have been provided through it in the whole country... Half of the charging sessions were used in the capital city of Belgrade.
|Photo by Nenad Pavlovic|
Using solar power as part of urban design has no precedent in the European community. It is the public realm of developing countries that is in need of these pioneering initiatives. Traveling across the Balkans one will not be exposed to images of vast wind and solar farms; except for the scientific community, algae and biofuels are still seen by the common man as technological advancements reserved for societies that don’t have to deal with more pressing matters of corruption, inefficient administration and political instability. With the region being in a nascent stage of sustainable development, the general public is just now being introduced to the culture of recycling and energy savings. It is the educational significance of the Strawberry project that makes the real impact; it goes beyond the youth’s commendable propensity to experiment and helps mold a new mindset that will effectively integrate renewable energy into our everyday lives.