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.
This project is the further development of early investigations into the use of renewable energy sources as explored in the Off The Grid project.
As realised during my research the blog called Low-tech Magazine powers their website with a similar setup. Thankfully their open-source documentation helped solving many of the technical challenges. Special thanks also to my talented friend and coder Alex Gschnitzer for the clever web-development and all the help with getting this server up and running.

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

How it works

»Solarweb« consists of my online portfolio page, felixlenz.at, 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 transparent enclosure holding a charge controller, a battery and a single-board computer. The components are then connected to a router accessing the internet. When the sun isn’t shining, the battery can keep the server up for three further days until it shuts down. The system was designed to go offline once in a while, as constant availability cannot be sustained with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. The web interface thus shows the battery’s capacity, the server’s statistics—CPU temperature, power and uptime—and the weather forecast for the next days. The project attempts to make our relationship to the Internet’s peripheral infrastructure and power consumption more tangible again.



The website and its physical counterparts were published in the Austrian street magazine »20er« along with a scientist’s and an economist’s analysis on the growing energy consumption of the Internet.