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The Sun King of China: did he dream too big?


I don’t like [the sun king], the king often be killed” says China’s solar entrepreneur, Huang Ming. “I’d rather be called the world number one solar crazy guy”.

Huang Ming’s vision was to build a solar valley to demonstrate the power of solar. A way of life that he believes should be for everyone.

The valley includes a low emission hotel and conference center, a solar museum and solar houses. Solar architecture is integrated into the design.

Although his dream was to build a replicable example to be built across other Chinese cities, this has not transpired, mostly on account of technology being too expensive.

“When people ask me ‘Are you proud of Solar Valley?’ I would say that not really”.

“The purpose was to promote, to copy that. And now, there is only one solar valley in China, in the world”, says the entrepreneur.

When asked whether he dreamed too big he answers, ” a little bit”.

“But I don’t regret”.


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Fairphone: a better phone is a phone made better

I don’t feel 100% good about the fact that I have an iPhone. Yes, I love the smartphone functionality, FaceTime, free international iMessaging and the idea that my phone can be the window to the world for everything, from hailing a taxi to booking restaurants and accommodation to being my mobile cinema.

However, ignorance is bliss when it comes to its components.

Not that there is much excuse for ignorance any more. Apple have been in the press for using child labour, overworking staff and causing devastating pollution on their factory sites (Read here, here and here).

It is hard to ignore at least the suspicion that big companies are turning a blind eye to human and environmental abuses to feed demand for products in the West, where the appetite for questioning is abated with marketing and offers of regular updates.

Welcome, Fairphone. Hailing from Amsterdam, the magic spring for all things cool, innovative and desirable, Fairphone is attempting to change the game when it comes to smartphones tech so that we don’t have to choose between our appetite for gadgets and our conscience.

Aiming to create a positive social and environmental impact, Fairphone is out to achieve the following:

  • Long-lasting design eliminating the irritating treadmill of planned obsolescence and never-ending upgrades
  • Fair materials
  • Good working conditions
  • Reuse and recycling

By opening up its supply chain, Fairphone is starting a long-overdue discussion about the story behind the products because, you know, products don’t really just come from malls.

Attracting big time media attention worldwide, Fairphone is well on the way to achieving its mission of using business as a drive for social change.

And I really want one.

Read more:

Can an ethical smartphone change the world?

How was your smartphone made? Nobody really knows.

Smart covers, new cameras: where the world’s most ethical smartphone goes next.