However, solar-power stations can be rather extensive. Alexander Mitsos and Corey Noone, two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have now thought up a more efficient way to build arrays of mirrors occupying almost 16% less space.
The mirrors are normally placed in concentric semicircles facing a tower, on top of which there are the boiler and turbine: they sometimes shade each other as the sun moves. The researchers divided each of the mirrors in a real power plant, PS10, in southern Spain into about 100 pieces and calculated all the energy losses using a computer model. It resulted that the more compact and efficient pattern is a Fermat spiral, a design where each element is set at a constant angle of 137° to the previous one, which is exactly the arrangement of the florets of a sunflower!
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