The two large tents planted on the lawn at Fox Studios on Friday had nothing to do with camping. In fact, one of the lightweight, flexible canopy structures housed a mobile video village powered by sunbeams. The tents were part of Foxï¿½s Earth Day Fair, a day-long gathering of eco-friendly vendors and service providers showing off sustainable products for studio staff and production crews. Participating companies included Sprint, Staples, and Go Green Gardner, but the biggest sustainable displays in sight were the two tents set up by FTL Solar. Originally established in 1977 as FTL Design Studio, FTL Solar creates lightweight, flexible, tensile structures that convert the sunï¿½s energy into electricity. In 1996, the companyï¿½s founders, Todd Dalland and Robert Lerner, were approached by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York to develop and integrate solar technology into fabric. FTL Solar soon became the first company in the world to unify the energy producing capabilities of photovoltaic cells with lightweight tent-like structures. The tents are topped with thin film strips that catch solar energy and use it to power computers, cell phones, monitors and any other device that requires electricity. The 20 foot x 20 foot models that were on display at the Fox lot accommodate approximately two dozen people and are easy to transport. Tony Saxton, FTL Solarï¿½s CEO, said the flexible structures are ideal for special military operations, disaster relief, and media/studio use. ï¿½Fox can use these structures for their productions around the world,ï¿½ Saxton said. ï¿½They can produce electricity to power computers in even the most remote sites. Our smallest structures are ten feet by ten feet, which will fold up and fit into a backpackï¿½our biggest structures are solar powered parking lots.ï¿½The structures are the only solar installations in the world that are mobile, and have thin film technology that is embedded directly into the tents. ï¿½You can shoot a scene and go right into the tent and see what has to be redone and the tent powers all the equipment,ï¿½ said FTL Solar spokesperson, Kara Kenney. ï¿½And, unlike with crystalline technology, thin film works in non-direct sunlight. On a cloudy day, you can still generate powerï¿½Richard Schoen, Director of Solar Technology for FTL, explained that the structures are cutting edge pieces of technology because of their flexibility and use of thin film. He also said that within four months, FTL Solar will market solar chargers for electric vehicles. ï¿½Battery-powered electric vehicles are coming back and we are going to be there with solar chargers,ï¿½ Schoen said. ï¿½In the past, electric vehicles have been criticized for exporting pollution to the nearest power plant, but we will market systems that will charge electric vehicles on the sun.ï¿½
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