IBM and Harvard University have launched a new distributed computing initiative called [The Clean Energy Project](http://cleanenergy.harvard.edu/). They want to harness the spare computing power of thousands of computers around the world to crunch numbers and search for potential materials to be used in new-generation polymer solar cells.
Polymer solar cells will be cheaper to manufacture than traditional silicon solar cells, however they currently have a pretty low efficiency rating. It is hoped that new combinations of materials may be found that will increase the efficiency to a practical level.
This processing task would take two decades to complete using their normally-available computing resources. The project aims to harness enough participants’ computers to get the job done in two years!
Anyone in the world can donate their spare computing power to the project simply by joining up and installing the free software. When your computer is idle, it will download data from the Clean Energy Project server and process it, then upload the results back to the server.
If you tend to leave your computer running when it’s not doing anything (energy waster!), maybe you could at least get it to do something useful for the solar industry.