This innovative solar energy system might give rooftop solar a run for its money with its nature-inspired design.
Even though solar power systems are most efficient when the panels are positioned directly perpendicular to the sun, most conventional rooftop solar arrays are installed at a fixed angle and orientation, which means that as the sun moves across the sky during the day, the panels are only square to the sun for part of the day. And while tracking systems are available for solar arrays, the added cost and complexity of integrating solar tracking with an array isn't quite practical or affordable enough to justify the expense for most solar installations.
However, an innovative solar energy system from Austria, billed as "the world’s first all-in-one solar system," aims to make home solar much more efficient and practical, because not only does it claim to produce 40% more output (than conventional fixed position PV arrays), but it's also decidedly more portable than a rooftop solar system and can be unbolted from its anchor and moved to a new home or location.
The Smartflower POP system is a 3.2 kW solar array which is designed to be ground-mounted, with the device folding its panels up at night or in high wind conditions, and then automatically unfolding again in the morning. The units come in 8 different colors, so you can be sure your solar array matches the rest of your home if that's important to you.
The Smartflower includes a dual axis tracking system which keeps its panels oriented directly at the sun throughout the day (and throughout the seasons), which allows it to harvest more solar energy over the course of a day than a conventional solar array. According to the company website, this allows the units to produce between 3,400 and 6,200 kWh per year, which is equivalent to the "average complete annual consumption of a central European household."
"The size of the system alone is no longer the measure of all things. What counts is a fairly constant production rate during the course of the day, in order to enable a more effective use of the produced energy.
Smartflower POP achieves a degree of self-utilisation of around 60% – a significant improvement over a comparable rooftop unit, which averages just around 30%." - Smartflower
Because of the way the Smartflower is designed, the company also claims that it reduces losses in output from dirty panels and overheating, and that the system is simple to install (in one hour) and to operate, as it "functions autonomously and automatically."
According to the website, the Smartflower is available through one of its dealer partners, which appear to be mostly located in Europe, although other interested parties can inquire directly about the system. There doesn't appear to be any pricing listed for the units on the company website.