What’s the biggest complaint about solar panels, aside from the expense? It’s probably their lack of widespread aesthetic appeal. But Hollywood film director and solar aficionado, James Cameron, has developed something so attractive and useful, it’s like a solar flower field that can reduce grid-based electricity consumption to zero, or close to it.
Attractive and efficient solar cells were once almost a dream. But with his help, that dream is not only real, it’s also free for anyone to use.
Cameron Isn’t a Tech Novice
Although he’s best known for his films, such as Avatar, the Terminator series, Titanic, and a host more, James Cameron’s brain has been put to use on a lot of different projects. He’s also known as a NASA advisor, a deep sea explorer, and a philanthropist.
He embraced solar technology early, even incorporating it into his home in Santa Barbara, says Alissa Walker for Gizmodo. And although he is one of the first to acknowledge the fact that a lot of people just don’t like the expense and aesthetics, he’s also a solar champion.
His New Design is Different
There’s always been a search for better solar power. At least since the first theories on viable solar energy started bouncing around the scientific community in the mid 1800s. The earliest cells were anything but efficient, but they were progress. Just as everything that’s come since has advanced the field.
Cameron’s new design takes on the aesthetics and the efficiency problems, and by all accounts, he wins. One of the biggest issues with panels large enough to produce reliable energy is that they’re stuck in one place. So they’re sort of like a broken clock – spot on at least a couple of times a day, if only by accident. But his new panels mimic one of nature’s most beloved creations, which is the sunflower. Cameron’s panels are shaped like 33-foot-tall sunflowers, and they also move the way that a sunflower does, always facing the sun. Bonus: They serve as giant sun shades for anyone standing underneath.
He’s Giving This Technology Away
A true philanthropist, he wants his Sun Flowers design to be open source. His patent only keeps his authorship intact. Once that’s final, he intends to give the information away to the public. But this isn’t the first time he’s acted with humanitarian generosity.
An earlier project, which was similar to Sun Flowers, consisted of a hydraulic, folding panel that could be used on mobile operations from movie trailers to FEMA emergency response operations. He gave that idea away, too.
Solar is one of the most viable means of producing clean power. Other ways have improved, such as wind turbines, but solar has had its foot in the door for a long time. It’s already ahead of the game to the point where advances are more like fine-tuned perfections.
Engineers have a real interest in making solar power available to everyone. It’s steps forward like Sun Flowers that serve as reminders of just how important conserving natural resources really is, and how approachable the solutions have become.
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