Red to green: Solar powered phone-boxes to recharge Londoners

The first London telephone box to be transformed into a free, solar-powered mobile phone charger has been unveiled today on Tottenham Court Road thanks to support and funding from the Mayor of London

The solar-panelled phone boxes provide a clean, carbon-neutral source of energy for phones, tablets, cameras and other devices. Costs are covered through in-booth advertising space enabling the public to power-up free of charge.

A new company Solarbox is using this first installation as a pilot before turning more phone boxes green early next year.

Boris Johnson said: “In our modern world, where hardly any Londoner is complete without a raft of personal electronic gizmos in hand, it’s about time our iconic phone boxes were updated for the 21st century, to be more useful, more sustainable, and just as striking with a marvellous new green makeover.

“As London’s low-carbon economy grows, its new start-ups like this, with or funding and support, that are keeping London at the forefront of future technology.”

Bright sparks

Solarbox is the brainchild of recent LSE graduates Kirsty Kenney and Harold Craston, who won £5,000 and mentoring support as runners-up in the Mayor’s 2014 Low-Carbon Entrepreneur competition this summer.

“Our idea was born out of our interest in the use of public space and renewable energy and is all about providing a service that people really need,” said Kenney.

“We’ve all been caught out – phone battery life just can’t keep up with the pace of our modern lives. By using solar power and repurposing old phone boxes we have been able to provide a real solution in an environmentally-friendly way.”

London’s rapidly growing low carbon goods and services sector is worth around £25 billion a year to the UK economy, and employs more than 160,000 people. The Mayor’s Low-Carbon Entrepreneur competition invites student entrepreneurs to generate and pitch their carbon-busting business ideas to a panel of expert judges.

Brad Allen

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