Catch a Cab, Charge Your Cell Phone

From Japan for Sustainability, another odd but interesting energy development:

Ecolo21 Co., Ltd, a taxi company in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, started a trial service on April 1, 2005 to charge passengers’ cell phones using the electricity generated by a wind turbine mounted on a taxi’s roof. This service is to promote the use of clean energy following the enactment of the Kyoto Protocol.

The taxi’s rooftop wind turbine has a built-in generator so that wind energy is converted to electricity. The electricity is stored in the car’s battery and then sent to a cigarette lighter socket. By connecting a charger to the socket, passengers can charge their cell phones. The company installed this system in one of its taxis, and it is planning to install an improved version in its remaining 19 taxis by the autumn of 2005.

While I wouldn’t label this a major step forward in the use of renewable power, it does demonstrate a novel approach to harnessing untapped power to provide a service. I see it as the sort of innovation that could inspire more thought on truly alternative (i.e., “outside the box”) energy applications.

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