The ancient world meets the modern world. Those charged with protecting cultural heritage sites have always had to balance the needs of the site and the needs of a modern world, whether that is through making it accessible to scholars for research, encouraging tourists to visit the site, or securing the site from vandals and looters. One of the biggest modern inventions to accomplish this is electricity.
As we move away from fossil fuels into environmentally friendly renewable sources, many sites are looking at solar panels as the best and most logical upgrade. But solar panels have their drawbacks. If your site happens to have some land, do you add solar panels to a potentially historic landscape? If you do not have a lot of open land, do you install them on the roof of your historic buildings? A company in Italy has answered these questions by designing solar panels that blend into the construction of historic buildings. For Pompeii, they designed panels that imitate the terracotta roof tiles used by the Romans. They have also developed solar panels that imitate stone, brick, wood, and other building materials and can be incorporated into walls and floors in addition to roofs.
This is an absolutely fascinating development in historic preservation. For so many sites, electricity is an issue, whether it is the costs involved or a lack of access to the physical plant. The ability to provide a clean source of electricity to historic sites while not having to sacrifice historic preservation is a major leap forward. Those providing preservation grants might want to consider covering the costs of such an upgrade. (*Hint hint*!)