Here’s a video touting the benefits of the “SmartFlower,” a unique design in solar PV. Note that it didn’t happen to mention the MSRP of the product, from which one could deduce the cost per kWh of electricity it generates. Even with considerable Googling and placing phone calls, I can’t find the price. Based on what I can see from the videos and infer about the installation as well as the mechanics and electronics in the design, I’d be surprise if a kWh were less than 50 times that of convention rooftop or ground-mounted solar.
This, of course, means that the SmartFlower has, at best, symbolic meaning. Its customers can point to an unusual and attention-grabbing device on their lawn or company campus that indicates their commitment to the environment. As I reported when I first saw this device at the Intersolar show last summer, I have mixed feelings about such symbolism. Expensive energy is something we definitely do not need on this planet, and I’m afraid the SmartFlower is the poster child for that phenomenon. If I had one of these, I’d only be communicating that I don’t understand the basic issues surrounding renewable energy.