I’m a huge fan of innovative uses of solar energy. I’ve always been fascinated by the possibilities that come with any 100% renewable resource and solar represents one of the most promising opportunities out there.
In a recent article for PopularMechanics.com, I wrote about a creative soul who figured out a way to use a TV antenna mover and some other simple electronics to make a solar panel that tracked the sun’s movements, thus making his portable battery charging system uber efficient.
That project was useful, but only for one small charging system which could provide power for one or two people at a campsite.
Could the same idea, that of tracking the sun’s movements to optimize solar efficiency, be used for the benefit of a much larger number of people? How about a whole village?
That’s exactly what was done recently in Norway (a country I’ve never visited and hope to see soon!). The inventive people of Rjukan, Norway have long had their eye on possible ways to get the bright, warm, beautiful sunlight that shone all winter long on the mountain-top easily within site of the town square, but sadly just out of reach. (they even built a cable-car in 1928 just so they could ride up and enjoy the sun for an hour or so) If only they could focus that light and warmth on the town square which spent the whole winter in the dark cold shadow of the mountain.
What a bright idea!
I first heard about this story from npr.org here.