Flower-shaped solar panel follows the sun

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(www.curbed.com)

In the past six months, we’ve seen camouflage solar panels and new rooftop tiles from Tesla founder Elon Musk that look nothing like the dark, gridded rectangles of yore. But an Austrian-based company is looking to shake things up with the Smartflower, a solar system that aims to provide homes and businesses with plug-and-play power.

Based off the concept of how a sunflower follows the sun, the Smartflower is a portable, adjustable petal system that tracks the sun’s path throughout the day. When the sun rises in the morning, the Smartflower automatically unfolds and begins producing energy by setting its petals at a ninety-degree angle. The flower goes “back to sleep” into a folding position at night or whenever high winds make it unsafe to operate.

It does all of this autonomously through GPS-based dual axis tracking. It also boasts a cooling and cleaning system that brushes the back of each panel every time the unit folds and unfolds. Because the Smartflower is always at an optimal angle to the sun, it can generate 40 percent more energy production than traditional solar.

The Smartflower is a kinetic all-in-one system, with the inverter, monitor, and batteries housed in the cabinet of the unit. This means that the solar system can be delivered, assembled, and installed in just a few hours. Even better, the Smartflower can be installed in any open space and you can draw power off of it just by plugging in.

 

We wrote about the Smartflower in 2015 when it was in its design stages, but now there are two different models available for purchase (price varies depending on delivery and installation).

The original Smartflower base model is a plug-and-play photovoltaic system meant for residential use that comes in eight different colors. The Smartflower is also electric vehicle-compatible thanks to easy integration with external EV charging stations. A larger model—the Smartflower Plus—offers an integrated battery storage system that lets you store solar energy for when you need it.

 

The first Smartflower delivery to the United States is slated for mid-April, but approximately 1,000 units have been installed throughout Europe. Some are fueling homes while others have been installed in public places. A Smartflower powers an outdoor learning space at the Botanical Gardens in Madrid, Spain and the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein in Austria uses a Smartflower to power a cafe and provide walkway lighting.