Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently discovered the power of a 3D-inspired solar panel tower that could draw in 20 times more energy than flat panel designs.
In an accordion-style tower, the panels proved to draw in more solar from more angles compared to flat panels during both cloudy and sunny conditions. What's more astounding is that the idea stemmed from 13-year-old Adiean Dywer's hypothesis that a design based on trees would produce more energy. Carried out under careful measurement and data calculations by the MIT team, that theory proved to be successful.
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Another benefit of the super power towers is that they save space. Although the design is expected to cost more than flat panels, the payoff could be more than worth the investment. The panels could be easily shipped in a flat folded state and restructured to its zig zag shape at the site of installation. Researchers predict the towers would be ideal for parking lots to help power electric vehicle charging stations.
The MIT team is still experimenting with different types of solar films and how to distribute the towers for the most effective use. Being that the towers could shade each other if built in close proximity, the solar array is currently intended for urban environments. However, they believe it could potentially be useful in solar farms in the future as well.