Solar power has many advantages and one way to get that harness that power is the use of solar panels. Many homes have started using solar panels on their roofs in order to collect the light from the sun and then convert it into energy for their heating systems and lights.

Solar panels provide the benefits of less fuel consumption as well as a lowered carbon footprint, as well as the chance to save money on high energy fuel bills especially if you live in a “sunny” place.

Homes are not the only places to be using solar panels, but now you may find solar panels being used in a number of surprising places and they are providing a surprisingly powerful result.

Barcelona, Spain: “We bring good things to life”

Santa Coloma de Gramenet, is a small town of 124,000 people in an area of 1.5 square miles. Given their lack of space, but need for eco-friendly power alternatives this city decided to put the sun to work for them by installing approximately some 462 panels on top of the mausoleums, which hold the remains of approximately 57,000 people.

Though many were opposed to the project saying it was disrespectful town hall and cemetery officials were finally able to convince the city of the effectiveness of this project.

“There has not been any problem whatsoever because people who go to the cemetery see that nothing has changed,” Fogue said. “This installation is compatible with respect for the deceased and for the families of the deceased.”

Placed at an angle the graveyard the solar panels “fuel” the living without disturbing the dead and generate enough power to support approximately 60 homes per year. The energy is collected throughout the day through the solar panels and then flows into the local energy grid.

This project costs the city approximately $900,000 and it is estimated to keep 62 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. This isn’t this city’s first solar panel power “plant” and it definitely won’t be the last, after all there are more mausoleums in the cemetery.

Spain has taken solar energy to the next level, now require all new homes to have solar panels to provide between 30-70% of their hot water, and new building codes are now in effect that require better insulation, improved heating and cooling the use of natural light.

“The new standards will bring energy savings of 30 to 40 percent for each building and a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy consumption of 40 to 55 percent,” the Environment and Housing Ministries said in a joint statement.

Arizona’s high speed train soars

Arizona introduces the first of its kind in the United States, a solar powered, high speed train, named the Solarbullet, which travels from Phoenix to Tucson, AZ in 30 minutes, traveling at speeds of 220 mph using solar panels mounted above the tracks.

The plan is to extend the service to Flagstaff, AZ and possibly as far south as Mexico City. Not only is it mass transit, but it runs at high speeds and uses free energy from the sun. Wonder how much those tickets cost?

New Jersey telephone poles power up

In July 2010 the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a $200 million contract which will bring about the installation of over 200,000 photovoltaic panels on existing utility poles throughout New Jersey.

The energy collected will then be “dumped” into the state’s existing power grid. The solar panels were installed in six cities and approximately 300 towns.

According to a statement by Petra (the company installing the solar panels) “This creates a highly efficient distributed solar generation system that also provides smart grid capabilities to our customers through real-time communications between the systems in the field and the utility control center.

In addition, our systems enhance electric distribution grid reliability and help stabilize the grid during periods of increased load,”

Washington, DC: Is the White House to become a “green house?”

Solar panels are nothing new to the White House; they had been installed by President Carter. However, President Reagan decided to have them removed and they have been “in the dark” environmentally ever since.

However the Obama administration and family are going green by installing solar panels once again, however these will be bigger, better and more efficient.

The new administration of solar panels will provide electricity as well as hot water and possibly save approximately $2300 a year in energy costs and would produce approximately 19,700 kilowatt hours per year in electricity according to the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.

To infinity and beyond! Not really, just to the moon . . .

A Japanese construction company, The Shimizu Corporation dreams of space travel and solar power all in one breath. They propose a large scale construction project that would create a giant “belt” of solar panels to surround the moon, calling it a “Luna Ring.”

This “ring” would be 400 kilometers wide and extend around the moon’s equator for 6,800 miles. The sun’s energy would be collected then converted into microwave and laser beams to receivers on Earth.

Shimizu estimates that the Luna Ring could provide a 24/7 source of clean energy, ending a reliance on natural resources.

These are just a few of the surprising places that we can now find solar panels. Solar panels were once considered a wave of the future, but with these inventive placements the future is here.

What does the future hold? Hopefully, even more innovative placements of solar panels and uses of alternative energy; lessening our dependence on natural resources.