John Carnett

John B. Carnett, PopSci’s staff photographer, is using the latest green technology to build his dream home. This is the first entry in his new blog tracking the build–follow along at

No, it’s not a death ray. The folks at RawSolar are creating what looks like a very affordable solar thermal tracking dish. This is a mini version of the concentrating solar power systems you see commercially in the 25 kilowatt range.

This sort of technology is game-changing. The 12-foot-diameter mirrored dish uses a patented process to flex a flat mirror into a parabolic shape. That process, combined with the lightweight frame, should give it a very high efficiency at a very low cost. The company was started by Spencer Ahrens, a 23-year-old mechanical engineer, who, in between bouts of burning wood with the thing, got his masters degree from MIT. With the dish, you can make steam for directly heating and cooling your house, or run the steam through a turbine to make electricity.

How much will it cost? How much power can it generate? I want one right now! I sent them an e-mail and am waiting…

RawSolar Dish