solar water heater

World's largest (at that time) solar energy project at Carrisa Plains, California, as shown on the cover of Scientific American magazine in April, 1987.

Carrisa Plains solar

The original photograph that Scientific American borrowed to create their cover. My software controlled and monitored all 880 mirror-enhanced photovoltaic trackers, covering much of a square mile of land.

Photovoltaic power

The Carrisa Plains solar power production facility trackers shown in their stowed position, for minimum wind load and interesting photographic opportunities.

solar energy

My software controlled each of the 880 trackers independently to face the sun accurately. The mirrors folded extra sunlight onto the photovoltaic panels to increase power output.

  solar power field

Popular Science magazine also covered the Carrisa Plains project in a very supportive feature article.

  solar power field

John's boss (now his father-in-law) met John at 4am one morning to arrive at the Sandia Labs site before sunrise. This picture was worth the effort! Our heliostats were used as part of Sandia Lab's solar research and development efforts.

solar power field

The solar research and development site at Sandia Labs was a fun place to do research. John created similar control software for heliostats and photovoltaic trackers at many other sites, including the Weizmann Institute, Tennessee Valley Authority, sites in Texas and California, and for a site in Qatar.

solar power field

The central receiver tower at Sandia Labs as viewed from a different angle.

  solar power field

Thirty heliostats created steam to thin underground oil in an EOR (Enchanced Oil Recovery) experimental site near Taft, California.

solar power field

The central receiver used solar energy to create steam to be pumped underground to warm and thin the oil for easier recovery.

solar power field

In this photo, each of the 30 EOR heliostats is aimed to focus the sun at a standby position in the open air. The atmospheric conditions allowed the beams to be more visible than usual the day this photo was taken.

The pictures along the left highlight some of the interesting solar energy projects I've been fortunate enough to be able to program, including the world's largest solar power production field (at the time) in the high desert region of California near Carrisa Plains, the Solar Energy Research and Development site at Sandia Labs near Albuquerque, New Mexico, and at several other fascinating sites around the world. My high accuracy sun position algorithms were critical to the proper design of several of these sites.

Interested in a high accuracy sun position algorithm in any of nine common programming languages?  Please check out my latest book, available now at Amazon.

 Sun Position
Paperback $19.95

In addition to solar energy, my passion is the Visual Basic programming language. You can see a list of my Microsoft Press, O'Reilly, and other books at

Here are my recent solar energy entries in the GE Ecomagination contest. For certain applications they can be very cost effective and much simpler to implement than current techniques. (Ever try to calculate the tilt angle for a fixed panel on the roof of a house that is sitting at a skewed angle to the world? And, how much does it cost to install and maintain a central control computer, with trenching for control cables, etc.?)

Solar Panel Efficiency Adjustment Made Easy

Photovoltaic Sun Tracking Made 100% Automatic

My new sundial that tells time and date

My sun and moon position algorithms have been used to create a new type of compass. Check out my Astro Compass Pro app in the Google Play store.

Astro Compass Pro

Astro Compass Pro

Contact John

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