Four strange and surprising solar sites

When we think of solar panels we probably think of them sat happily on a rooftop, or maybe relaxing, soaking up the sun in a field somewhere. But they’re actually quite at home in a whole load of weird and wonderful places...

1. The floating solar farm in Walton-on-Thames

Photo: Thames Water

Photo: Thames Water

Water might not seem the natural home for solar panels but this solar farm is floating along just fine on this reservoir in Walton-on-Thames near Heathrow. Reservoirs are actually pretty good places for solar panels. The water cools the panels down so they produce even more clean power than usual, and they help make the reservoirs more efficient by stopping the water evaporating.

2. The Eiffel Tower

The famous french icon might be a historic site but that hasn’t stopped it going solar. The world's most famous tower is kitted out with hidden solar panels and wind turbines to help power its first floor. And the best bit? You wouldn’t even know they’re there! All the redesigns have been done to minimise visual changes whilst benefiting from all that environmentally friendly goodness.

3. The solar tree in Bristol

Photo: Alice Bell, CC

Photo: Alice Bell, CC

This beautiful installation in Bristol is more than just solar in tree form, it's a work of art! It was built as part of Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. The solar panels which make up the foliage were handmade by people recovering from addiction part of the Bristol Drugs Project. Oh, and along with all that, you can also charge your phone on it.

4. The solar carport in Nottingham

A solar carport might sound like something straight from Star Trek, but it's actually a pretty sensible idea. Solar panel roofs are installed above the parking spaces, - think giant car umbrellas with solar panels on. And in Nottingham they’re pretty taken with them. The council have installed one in a local car park which is not only saving them money but saving 47 tonnes worth of carbon emissions each year.

Images: Alice Bell, Creative commons.