Sitting just outside the Interactive Learning Center on the Boise State campus, student Carlos Toledo marvels that he never before noticed the blue and orange monolith less than 30 feet away from him.
Situated next to the ILC, one of the most high-traffic areas on campus, is a widely unused and unrecognized $9,795 piece of equipment called a Solar Dok.
The Solar Dok is a solar charging station, incidentally in the shape of a blue and orange picnic table.
“To be honest, I never noticed it before. I think it’s a cool idea. Sometimes it’s hard to find a place to plug in,” said Toledo, a transfer student studying supply chain management.
Boise State is one of approximately 60 universities across the nation with a Solar Dok installed on campus. The dock features power outlets which passing students can use to charge various electronic devices.
According to Tom Davis, the vice president of EnerFusion, Inc., the modern world has not adequately prepared for the wave of portable technology that has occurred.
There is a growing need to regularly charge portable electronic devices which is not consistently being met.
The Solar Dok was developed by EnerFusion, Inc. specifically to address this problem.
“We wanted to create portable power because there are not enough plugs in the world where people need them,” Davis said.
EnerFusion, Inc. is a Michigan-based company founded in 2006 that has been implementing the Solar Dok on campuses across the country for the last four to five years.
The Solar Dok is one of multiple eco-friendly initiatives developed by EnerFusion Inc. to provide sustainable off-the-grid power.
“We’re trying to get creative with the energy from the sun,” Davis said. “Power from the sun by itself isn’t enough; you have to capture and accumulate that power.”
According to Davis, a Solar Dok is a hybrid concept between solar power and battery storage capacity.
“When you merge the two and get the common denominator, you have a plug.
That is how our idea came to fruition and no one else knows how to do what we do,” Davis said.
Most students have portable electronics that need to be charged every day.
Students typically plug those electronic devices into on-the-grid power sources.
According to Davis, by plugging into a Solar Dok, a student is able to fire up their electronics without tapping into the grid.
Even one less laptop charge diverted from on-the-grid to off-the-grid power can make a difference in the cause for energy sustainability.
Boise State students and instructors have mixed reactions towards the novelty of the Solar Dok and its practicality on campus.
“It’s kind of ugly. I’ve heard it called the space table before,” said Laura Roghaar, an English instructor at Boise State. “But it seems useful to have a place to plug in, There is always outlet wars going on in inside spaces.”