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)