Turning To Shadows To Curb Energy Usage

Thanks to some complex calculations, supercomputers and a lot of patience, researchers in Spain have created solar radiation models that they say could help reduce the amount of energy consumed in cities. Researchers at the Technical University of Madrid recently published their findings in the Research Journal of Chemistry and Environment.

The researchers created shadow models and special software that can calculate the amount of solar radiation that reaches streets and buildings in high resolution. The process sounds like a tedious one, and it was – computers at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center had to work for 72 hours in order to achieve just six seconds of light and shadow evolution for an area of Madrid, Spain.


But all that work may be worth it. Researchers involved with the project say their models can be used as a tool for sustainability and energy optimization in cities and architecture. The way the solar radiation hits pavement and buildings can affect energy consumption. Or as the researchers put it, “Urban morphology plays a crucial role in the energy balance.”

“The heating is often turned on during the day and turned off at the night but in some cases could be the other way around. For instance, sometimes the amount of solar radiation that reaches a building is enough to keep in the warmth that has accumulated from the heating being on during the night,” Roberto San José, lecturer at the Technical University of Madrid said in a statement.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

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