This is an excerpt from the September 7, 2012: I heart NY PV, installations in the black, and a man with a mission edition of the SunShot newsletter.
SunShot Profile: Fellow Highlight
Adam Cohen is definitely a man with a mission.
"The transition to clean energy is a societal challenge that can't be overcome with science and technology alone," he says. "My work is aimed at including more of the social, behavioral, and economic perspectives into the SunShot Initiative vision."
Adam earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Maryland in 2011, studying nonlinear dynamics and chaos, and became a SunShot Fellow later that year. He is now examining market adoption dynamics as a different way to understand the options for lowering the cost of solar.
One of the more recent fruits of his labor is the $9-million Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies (SEEDS) funding opportunity. This program is expected to launch analytical, numerical, and conceptual tools and methods that improve the current understanding of technology adoption dynamics. The goal is to overcome economic, social, and policy barriers that impede the spread of solar. The program seeks to couple insights from network and complexity science with the availability of large solar datasets to examine how new technologies emerge, evolve, and diffuse through society.
Adam's interest in network science is not limited to solar technologies. In his spare time, he can be found spreading two-dollar bills, one-dollar coins, and half-dollar coins around Washington, D.C., as an unofficial experiment of sorts.
Adam's mission also includes many other efforts to drive down the cost of solar so that, one day, the installed cost per watt could be covered by one of his circulating two-dollar bills. Adam is helping craft the rules and format for a $10 million SunShot competition that challenges businesses to install rooftop solar energy systems at an average price of $2 per watt.
"I was looking to combine my scientific training with my passions for sustainability, clean energy, and a healthy environment," Cohen says. "The SunShot Fellowship has provided an opportunity for me to make progress in solving one of my generation's great challenges."