Solar power requires us to renegotiate our personal relationship with energy. For such long time we have been separated from the material and technological infrastructures that provide us with electricity, enabling us to over-consume energy in a seemingly limitless or even magical way without a tangible understanding of the consequences. With sunlight, we have the opportunity to attain a new understanding of what it means to harvest our own energy—to see and feel it and have it within our perception.
Through this research project we will explore what it means to develop a personal and more embodied relationship to sunlight in the context of solar energy, and how this might bring us into new relations with our energy usage. We draw from design methodologies that aim to explore situated and embodied experiences of hidden phenomena (in this case, solar energy) in order to gain new understandings of it. It begins with engaging several participants from varying backgrounds in design, technology, and policy-making for solar energy and PV design in auto-ethnographic explorations using portable solar panels—putting their energy use in a direct relationship with the flows of the sun. From this we hope to spark a discussion on how to alter the story of solar power from that of a replacement to carbon-based energy sources, to a resource we can more humbly collaborate with, respect, and care for.