The Fields' Efficiency: How Innovation Outshines the Sun

At a two-acre site located 80 miles west of Ann Arbor, an engineering major at the Univ. of Michigan installed the state's largest solar farm with movable trackers that increase the amount of energy captured by almost 10%.
August 2, 2011, 5am PDT | Jeff Jamawat
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Unlike Arizona or New Mexico where the amount of sunlight stays perpetual throughout the year, Michigan gets about four hours of usable sun power on its best days in spring. With this in mind, Connor Fileld and his father proceeded to build a solar farm with one simple goal: not losing money.

"The challenge came in upfront construction costs when it became clear that a movable commercial tracker system was simply too expensive. Field's decision to build the entire set of support structures with his father shaved costs significantly," writes Nate Anderson.

He adds, "Field's trackers are simple steel structures with a hinged mechanism that allows the panel to be unlatched and then tilted into several specific angles based on time of year; the design is based on research from federal renewable energy studies."

Thanks to Christopher Shaw

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Published on Monday, August 1, 2011 in Ars Technica
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