Why I created structure for solar panels

It always has seemed technology can solve really big problems. And when a new meaningful one appears it is interesting to follow it. This was the reason I have been a huge fan of Tesla from their early days. They laid necessary technological ground for us to move to a greener energy en mass.

But as good as it feels to see others do the right thing I have to admit that when it comes to going for greener energy I was too complacent to old ways. My home runs on a gas heating system - an investment I made 15 years ago, and, frankly, there is no excuse that I still keep it. I still could procrastinate and find excuses and perhaps linger a bit longer...

...but then it happened....well you know what happened. And I know where that gas pipeline is getting the gas from. So I asked myself - if I go for solar, how do I do it?

Here I need to tell you more about myself. I have been in product development for 20 years. I am getting inspired by innovators of our age - people who come up with new things and services that were not possible before. You could say it is a professional disease :) but after a while one starts looking at all the surroundings this way.

So it is no wonder that when it comes to architecture I am a huge fan of Zaha Hadid style of architecture. Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) started "an age of curved spaces" (she has been named "A queen of the curve"), Patrik Schumacher heading the company gave the style a name "parametricism" and published a book that covers it thoroughly. I could go on for hours but let's just say that ZHA did to architecture what Tesla did to a car.

When the solar necessity manifested itself so loudly I further framed the question of how solar panels can be aesthetically inspirational beyond the good purpose they serve for the world? And yes this is a sensitive question. We must merge doing the right thing with keeping our home the place we want to see and be in.

The roof of my house does not have enough southward looking space so I started to think about the backyard, where there is a small garden for flowers and one apple tree. The backyard and garden is mostly dominated by natural and less symmetric. How to place solar panels there while keeping the feeling good?

When approaching this problem it boiled down to one issue. If you look at solar panel technology and commercialisation trajectory it shows almost no signs of getting out of "single plane" and given the dire need to deploy a maximum number of panels the single-plane rectangular form is actually what we need. As a humanity we can deploy more solar panels if they are manufactured cheaply in a simple form. Yet does it mean advanced curved architecture does not go hand in hand with our solar objectives? Or more narrowly - how can a curve accomodate a rectangle?

The solar panel structure is one answer.

It is not a solution for all curved forms but it is one line of thought and it took a whole other technology (parametric modelling) to merge curved design with rectangular panels. Parametric modelling is not a requirement for all curved designs - one can draw the curves with the hand. But not in the case of this solar panel structure. It takes about 200 geometric functions to recalculate the whole structure just when you change the solar panel size a bit. To me this seems yet again a case for technology helping us to solve problems.

I hope that the structure for solar panels that fuses regular economically viable panels into attractive form can inspire more people to want to deploy solar energy both for their enjoyment and greater good.

Drop me an email if you'd like to talk!