Solar power transforms London’s famous red telephone boxes

October 3, 2014 0 By Amanda Giasson

A new phone booth that was unveiled earlier this week is powered by solar energy.

The first “solarbox”, which runs on solar power, enables people who use it to charge their mobile devices, and the hope is that these new phone boxes, which look identical to the red ones except they are painted green, will help to re-popularize the use of one of England’s national icons that still exists but has become rather redundant due to the large presence of cellular phones.

The green phone booths receive power from a rooftop solar panel.

The first of these solar energy boxes has been placed at one of London’s busiest intersections, outside Tottenham Court Road underground station at the intersection with Oxford Street. The booth is equipped with four chargers, giving people the chance to charge their mobile phones or tablets.

The co-founder of solarbox and a graduate from the London School of Economics, Harold Craston, explained that “The energy is stored in a battery, so you can even charge your mobile phone during the night or when there is no sun.” He added that “We wanted to show that we could use public spaces in a positive way, and that London should try to become more green.” Craston commented that too many of the current red boxes no longer serve a practical purpose.

A second solar power phone booth is set to be up and running in early 2015.

Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, supports the new green boxes and said that the city’s iconic phone booths have been in need of an update for a long time. The red telephone boxes have been around since 1936, but stopped being made in 1968. At that time there were 70,000 of the boxes scattered around England. Although 11,000 of the red booths are still used, the majority of them are losing money.

In January, another solarbox is expected to be in service and there are plans for more to come in later months. If successful, the solar power project will not only make Britain a little greener, but will help to breathe life back into one of its famous icons.