Solar-powered beach umbrellas can keep your ice cream cold and save the planet

The height of summer in the Western hemisphere means a lot of beach days, time spent outdoors, and suntanning in the backyard. But it also means pressure on energy sources, especially for towns that have an influx of tourists during this season. This year in particular has been brutal with much of Europe experiencing record-breaking heat which also means a drain on a lot of resources. It’s always welcome when we hear of products and concepts that will help lighten the load and still bring comfort and convenience to its users.

Designer: CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati for Sammontana

Italian desserts brand Sammontana commissioned an innovation firm to come up with an innovative product that will be useful for this season but also sustainable. The Parelio is a solar-powered beach umbrella that is able to harness the power of the sun to create sustainable energy. The lawn and beach accessory can absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity for things like coolers, mini-refrigerators, phone chargers, and even to power machinery.

Instead of the usual beach umbrella design that folds down towards the earth, this one folds upward towards the sun as it absorbs its energy. The inspiration for the design is a combination of origami and the solar systems on NASA spacecraft. On top you get foldable photovoltaic panels that are able to convert the energy into electricity. Don’t worry so much about getting too much sunlight as the top is still able to provide enough shade, which is the primary purpose of beach umbrellas.

It is 2.5 meters high with a diameter of 3.2 meters. The mini-refrigerator attached can keep your drinks and food cold, which is where the dessert brand comes in. One umbrella is powerful enough but if you have a network of them in one area, it can provide electricity for more than just your mini ref. Multiple Parelios can even power an entire establishment so even if you get a lot of visitors, you’re still able to manage your consumption.