This Solar Panel Design Moves With the Sun Through The Arc of a Day

    Austria will begin building out a nationwide network of charging stations in an effort to boost electric vehicle use and to reduce its carbon emissions. Along with the European Union, it has also created a business environment that supports sustainability-minded entrepreneurship. One such outcome of that context is Smartflower, a photovoltaic array that mimics the sun-seeking inclinations of a flower. The company claims that this design results in 40-50 percent more efficiency than a traditional photovoltaic array.

    Unlike solar panels, which are normally fixed into place on rooftops, Smartflower is kinetic, allowing it to position itself to maximize sun exposure. In the morning, when the sun rises, its panels fan out, creating a flower-like arrangement, which then rotates throughout the day in response to sunlight. In its dormant, night-time position, it undergoes a cleaning process, minimizing the sunlight interference that dust build-up can present. 

    Meant to be consumer-friendly, the system can be installed in any open space then easily plugged in. Already it has picked up the endorsement of Austria’s own Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said: “I mean, what a brilliant idea—you put this in front of your house, then you plug it in—not installation, nothing—just plug and play.”

    The invention has become a darling of design awards programs, picking up a Red Dot Design Award in 2016, a Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award in 2015, and a distinction from Austria’s Chamber of Commerce.