Cities of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures

Our second collection of solar futures, Cities of Light, follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, but with a twist, leveraging the unique cultures, economies, and geographies of Chicago, San Juan, San Antonio, and Portland to inform and explore a dialogue about post-carbon cities in possible future visions of the United States. Imagined in collaboration with researchers at the Center for Integrated Mobility Sciences at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, S.B. Divya, Deji Bryce Olukotun, and Andrew Dana Hudson illuminate what life might be like, living under solar panels, for the diverse inhabitants of the cities of tomorrow. Even more importantly, however, they illuminate how the political economies of energy might intersect with the United States’ fraught politics of race and class—and what it will take to make the future of the solar-powered city not only sustainable, but also just.

The Weight of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures

Our first collection of solar futures, The Weight of Light, puts comparative design at the heart of the solar project. What if we build big? What if we build small? What if we build solar in cities? What if we build solar in rural hinterlands? These and a host of other design variables (the full list includes scale, geography, aesthetics, abundance, ownership, governance, storage, supply chains, and waste) informed a tour of diverse futures in captivating stories by Cat Rambo, Corey S. Pressman, Andrew Dana Hudson, and Brenda Cooper, compelling artwork, and reflective essays by leading photovoltaics researchers from the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies Engineering Research Center and the School for the Future of Innovation and Society. Just how different might solar-powered futures be?