Whether you travel alone or in packs, there is a new range of portable solar solutions by the Swiss company iLAND (said island) that will put crummy little solar panels on your backpack to shame: iLand has developed and now manufactures portable solar power packs for events with thousands and those small enough for one.
One of their portable solar pack products can be thrown over your back and taken on a long trail to nowhere; another can serve your household as a silent backup generator.
iLand was recently commissioned to power up a massive 6-day desert marathon, the Marathon des Sables, for over 1100 runners plus 400 staff, reporters and spectators in Morocco’s Sahara Desert; they’ve seen sales increase in Japan post-tsunami as an alternate solar generator for locals; iLand gives solutions to NATO, the Red Cross, and soon the French Army; and for lone wolves everywhere who want to run, walk or be on the lone trail without leaving greenhouse gas behind.
Plus, their portable packs are sexy.
Looking for Middle East business buyers, distributors and sales teams, iLAND’s CEO Daniele Oppizzi talks with Green Prophet briefly about this cool new technology powered by the hottest thing we all know: the Sun.
“I am an architect and biologist,” says Oppizzi (pictured above) “and I worked in various development projects where I had the chance to be involved in rural development projects.
“Following a trip to Morocco, I understand that was the moment to make autonomous mobile solutions. Thanks to the help of my father who is an electrician we developed the first Iland system.”
Now available for sale or lease (like a big trailer-sized box that could power up music festivals with sun-filled batteries), iLAND showed its potential in Morocco recently where they provided power to base camp every day so desert runners could communicate with loved ones.
“Doing this at base camp and 30 kilowatt hours per day isn’t trivial,” he tells me. “The sun and the heat there is a challenge but when the director of the marathon contacted me about the idea, I guaranteed that our military-certified solutions could live up to our promise and we did this in poor conditions using trucks in the desert on a very rough road.”
Made to be 100 percent water-proof, but also heat- and shock-resistant, today 80 percent of the company’s sales are in retail, and they are going deeper into the mass market with the Fly and Trek packs, two smaller products that look like an architect’s renderings box and carried over the arm on or with provisions.
For the home market there is the Tube and Bigbox – both can serve as generators or sole sources of power for off-grid living on the move.
“The only other solution in the past was diesel generators running every day and night,” says Oppizzi. “Besides the greenhouse gas pollution, imagine the noise these generators make in the desert or in remote locations?” Oppizzi asks me.
Actually the first time I had set to talk with him from Northern Ontario over to Neuchatel, Switzerland, bad weather dropped my power and I had to call in on a landline with a raging, noisy and smoking generator outside my door. iLAND’s solar panel, home solution rather, powers up a backup battery using the sun. I wish I had one.
Their biggest solution can cost thousands of dollars, but for small one-day treks the Fly costs about $100 USD for your GPS, phone or radio. For bigger power needs the Trek can work to feed the needs of laptops, phones and small devices in a tent offering three days of autonomy without the sun. This would appeal to Middle East trekking guides and costs about $600 and it weighs about 2 kilograms.
Bigger solutions like the Tube are portable but which need to be hitched to a ride to move can power bigger devices like a TV or fridge. At 12 kilograms the cost is about $1600 USD.
“We now have a lot of customers in Japan as it is now mandated for emergencies by the government that every home have a backup power source for future problems,” Oppizzi tells us. Some are turning to iLAND.
This year marks four years of development after starting up in 2010 and the first product, the Tube.
In parallel the company is producing off-grid accessories for environmentalists and survivalists: like water purification systems that use the sun, or lamps and special adaptors that hook into the power packs.
Now iLAND is casting its net over the Middle East as it looks for distributors in countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. We hope that we can help them find a match for their novel source of sun power.
Meanwhile, you can buy their products at retail prices through the iLAND website here.