Solar power is definitely one of the better ways to harvest free energy from our surroundings, and when it comes to rural areas, it is one of the best ways to provide green and sustainable energy without having to cut down large tracts from the forest. The University of Michigan should be proud that three of its alumni from the engineering faculty have come up with the Emerald portable solar panel which doubles up as a cell phone charger and personal light source. The Emerald is capable of lasting for up to 8 hours as a light source per charge, and can also juice up a handset as fast as a power outlet does. These students intend to be philantropic about their invention, selling it for less than $20 to cater for customers in the developing world, making their offering 90% cheaper compared to other solutions in the market. We sure hope the other companies won’t have a case of sour grapes and start being more reasonable in pricing their “green” products – frankly speaking, it looks as though the only kind of green they’re looking out for are Benjamins.

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