Using solar panels as a camera

Jeroen Boeye is a data scientist who was parsing the power output of his panels, and noticed that they were influenced — as you'd expect — by the trees near his house, which got in the way of direct sunlight.

That made him wonder: Could you use the solar panels' output as an imaging signal? Or rather, can you use your panels to effectively take a photograph of the world around it?

Turns out you can! After some very clever crunching of his data using R, Boeye produced this dataviz …

… and then he took this panoramic picture of the landscape around his panels …

… which, when he overlaid them, produces the image at the top of this post: A nice mirroring of the data to the trees.

I'd love to see this technique tried with big industrial arrays, or maybe with the combined data from a collection of urban solar rooftop arrays that are near each other. It makes you wonder what other interesting observations might be teased out of really big solar-array data sets.

BTW, Boeye has also written a few other posts about how he's parsed the data from his arrays (here and here), which are similarly fun and useful; and he's put all the code he used online so any R-wielding folks with their own solar panels could try their hand at it too.

(Images used with permission of Jeroen Boeye)

(Via Hackaday)