Is the Solar Sunflower Blossoming?

Solar Sunflower, SmartFlower, unique design in solar PV, commitment to the environmentHere’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.

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3 comments on “Is the Solar Sunflower Blossoming?
  1. Breath on the Wind says:

    “Costs about 20,000 pounds in the UK” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VyhsoUemug

    Unlike a rooftop system it has a lot of moving parts in its solar tracking / storage mechanism that could potentially break down.

    But it is an attempt to add a design element to the increasingly staple product of Solar PV. Similar innovations have sold well from Apple and Tesla.

  2. Breath on the Wind says:

    Thanks for the reference Mark. What I found most interesting in the pictures is the apparatus in the background. It appears to be a huge box beam on a half gimbal that could be used for a one directional solar tracking. This would make some sense if the long axis of the beam were oriented East-West.

    I would be curious to see the numbers behind the claim of 80% efficiency. At that level, it would have to be heavily dependent upon thermal capture rather than PV for most of the efficiency.

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