3D Solar Array (via MIT)
Sure, MIT’s 3D solar array may look like art, but its looks are pure function. Unlike sun-tracking solar arrays that follow the fiery sphere along its ecliptic path to maximize its power gathering potential, MIT's 3D solar array is designed to efficiently gather energy by positioning its photovoltaic cells upward. Conceived by Associate Professor Jeffrey Grossman and his team at MIT, the 3D solar array provides more than double (and in some cases 20 times more) the power output than fixed emplacements.
Special computer algorithms were used to test different configurations of cell placement as well as a host of different seasons, weather and locations. The team then went on to build three different configured models based on the algorithmic findings which were then put through a week long testing process. The chosen 3D design was able to beat out current panels even in adverse conditions including overcast skies. According to the propeller-heads, the reason the 3D configuration is better at grabbing energy when the sun is positioned closer to the horizon such as mornings and evenings. The design does have one downside over current set-ups: Money. It costs more to build the 3D array. According to MIT, the energy collected over existing arrays is worth the additional cost to build them. I’ll go one step further in saying that they look more interesting and appealing, as well.