First, he actually went down to the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic for the making of the film and made significant contributions to what we know about the wreck.
Next, he broke a record by exploring Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench (the deepest part of the ocean) in a solo dive, bringing back scientific samples for analysis.
Now he is investing in a new solar panel that offers significant advantages over solar systems currently on the market. Even better, he's going to make the technology open source to drive down costs and help it get integrated more quickly into the average person's life.
There are a few practical reasons why there residential solar panels haven't really taken off. For one, rooftops aren't always the best place for panels, as the angle of the roof and the directionality can affect how much sunlight the panels receive, limiting how effective it is. Most people also don't have the space to put an array of panels out into an open area, which many would also view as an eyesore.
Luckily, the panels that Cameron developed in conjunction with the solar tech company Sonnen get around some of these less desirable solar panel attributes.
The panels are arranged into a 28.5 foot diameter sunflower shape, which makes it more attractive while also adding to its function. Because the panels are arranged on top of a 33-foot-tall pole "stem," the whole "flower" is able to tilt and move toward the sun, collecting the maximum amount of light.
Though the technology is young, it's off to a promising start.
The first of these flowers have been installed at MUSE School in Malibu, which was co-founded by Cameron's wife. They are able to pull 260 kWh each day, which reduces the school's reliance on the grid by about 75-90%, according to Gizmodo. As solar technology continues to improve, it is hoped that the sunflowers will be able to meet all of the school's energy needs. Additionally, the students are able to integrate the solar panels into their lesson plans, making it a win-win.
The best part about all of this is that the design will be open source, meaning anyone will be able to manufacture it, which will increase competition and ultimately make it less expensive. Cameron will hold the patents to technology, but that is really just to ensure that nobody else can. It's a move that is incredibly similar to what Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk did in 2014, when Musk announced that his electronic vehicle company was releasing all of its patents.
So, what do you think? Would you install one of these sunflower solar panels at your house?
[Header image: screen shot via YouTube]