Starting with the fundamental question, “What is the most optimal way to arrange solar panels in order to maximize power output?”, the team has developed three-dimensional layouts that achieve upto 20x the power output of traditional flat panels with the same surface area. Imagine the possibilities that this opens up. It is the equivalent of saying that you can generate the same amount of power with 5% of the land area otherwise required. Availability of land is often a limiting factor for solar installations. Now, your rooftop just grew 20x in size! Just as importantly, cities and urban locations can become meaningful sources of energy generation. And the icing on the cake? These structures outperform flat panels under cloudy conditions. This is great news for locations like Boston, which are often given to capricious weather.
There is a saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will tend to see every problem as a nail”. People like Prof. Grossman and Mr. Ferralis inspire us to look at old things in new ways, to seek possibilities where none seem apparent, to take our thinking to a whole new dimension.