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A View from Erika Jonietz

SXSW Goes Solar

Sun-powered “SolarPumps” help concertgoers keep phones, laptops and even scooters charged up.

  • March 18, 2010

SXSW is a marathon event, from the Interactive conference to the music festival–and it can be hard to keep all your gadgets charged and running.

So the conference organizers have collaborated with Austin-based Sol Design Lab to make the firm’s SolarPumps available at locations around downtown Austin.

The SolarPump is a free, solar-powered charging station for electric bikes, scooters, cell phones, and laptops–basically anything that uses a standard electric cord to charge. Beth Ferguson created the pump in February 2009 as her project for her MFA at the University of Texas at Austin. Ferguson combined the reclaimed body of a 1950’s gas station pump with solar panels to get people thinking about solar energy.

“We’ve used kind of a fun combination of 1950’s gas pumps with solar panels for people to really start questioning and seeing the humor and really start thinking about a new form of transportation and energy for the city,” she told Austin’s KVUE News.

The SolarPump combines 1950s vintage gas pumps with solar panels to create an electronics-charging station. © Sol Design Lab

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