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More solar options for charging on the go

Konarka Technologies' flexible solar panels find their way onto backpacks in Europe and shade structures in Middle East and North Africa.

Konarka's solar panel on a Neuber mailbag.

Konarka Technologies announced this week its Power Plastic flexible solar panels are going to be being used in carrier bags and possibly shade structures in the Middle East and Africa.

The company made a deal to supply its solar panels to German-based carrier manufacturer Neuber for bags that can double as chargers for small electronics like cell phones, digital cameras, and media players. Neuber is currently selling the so-called Energy Sun Bags at around 118 euros ($175) on the Neuber Web site.

Konarka's flexible solar panels in Neuber's range of mailbags are not the first instance of backpacks going solar, but they certainly are one of the first we've noticed in the growing trend in recent months of reasonably-priced solar bags coming on to the consumer market.

While not yet at the product stage, Konarka also announced this week it's partnering with Enviromena Power Systems, a solar project developer in the Middle East and North Africa whose clients include Abu Dhabi's planned green community Masdar City.

The plan is to integrate Konarka's flexible solar panels into shade structures.

Shade structures, tents, and awnings are already used ubiquitously for shade. It makes sense to find a double use for them as a solar panels to provide a recharge for cell phones or iPods.