Felix Lenz — Solarweb

Felix Lenz

VIENNA/ AUT T19:35:00
panel active:N/A
day after:N/A

This is a self-hosted and solar-powered website, which means it sometimes goes offline.

We were told that the Internet would “dematerialise“ society and decrease energy use. Contrary to this belief, it has become a large and rapidly growing consumer of energy itself. According to the German Institute of Applied Ecology, the Internet, if it were a country, would have the world’s third highest power consumption.
In an attempt to make our relationship to the Internet’s peripheral infrastructure more tangible again, this website has been designed to decrease energy use. The interface has been coded as light-weight as possible and uses a system typeface (Arial) to avoid unnecessary HTTP requests. As constant availability cannot be sustained with renewable energy sources such as solar-power, the system will go offline during longer periods of bad weather.

For more details about this project see the essay I wrote as a contribution to the online exhibtion at Solar Protocol.

filed asweb design, prototyping
project byFelix Lenz
collaboratorsAlex Gschnitzer (web-development)
open-source documentationLow-tech Magazine
photographyFelix Lenz, Mani Froh

The Hardware

»Solarweb« consists of this digital interface and the physical counterparts necessary to host and run the website completely off the grid.
During a sunny day, the energy generated by a 150W solar-panel mounted on a balcony in Vienna powers a charge controller, a battery and a single-board computer. The latter is eventually connected to a router accessing the internet. When the sun isn’t shining, the battery can keep the server up for about three further days until it shuts down.


Workshops & Press

The website has amongst others been published in the Austrian magazine »20er« along with a scientist’s and an economist’s analysis on the growing energy consumption of the internet. I also gave a workshop at Patchlab Digital Art Festival in Krakow sharing first-hand stories, tools and tactics on how to design for a more sustainable internet.